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Government tasked on child protection as groups mark Leah Sharibu’s third birthday in captivity

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Yesterday, May 14, was Leah Sharibu’s birthday. She clocked 17, making it the third birthday she would be spending in captivity after her abduction with other schoolgirls by Boko Haram on February 19, 2018, in Dapchi, Yobe State.

The president, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, and other civil society organisations yesterday used the occasion to call on the Federal Government to redouble its efforts at protecting the citizens, especially children who are the most vulnerable in the society.

Leah Sharibu had denied her freedom for refusing to convert to Islam as a precondition for release. In February, her mother, Rebecca Sharibu, joined in a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London to mark the second anniversary of her daughter’s abduction. She delivered a petition with 12,132 signatures to the High Commission, calling on the Nigerian government to take action to secure Leah’s release.

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Okei-Odumakin said every day Leah spends in captivity indicts the Nigerian government that has been unable to fulfil its promises and the purpose of government in securing her freedom.

“On this occasion of her birthday, may we demand that we all re-dedicate ourselves anew and afresh to the worthy cause of working assiduously for Leah Sharibu’s release from Boko Haram captivity.

“We also demand more accountability from the government on issues of child protection and friendliness. Leah Sharibu and the case of Chibok girls, who remain perpetually in captivity since 2014 give indications that Nigeria itself may have become a giant prison of a sort for her children”, she said.

Also a United Kingdom-based Christian human rights organisation specialising in freedom of religion (CSW), yesterday released a video to mark Leah’s birthday in which individuals around the world share the impact that her story has had on them.

CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said, “For the third time Leah will be marking her birthday as a captive. This brave girl is an example to all of us as she continues to stay true to her Christian faith and refuses to renounce her faith. We continue to call on the Nigerian government to do everything in its power to secure her swift release, and that of other captives held by Boko Haram, including the remaining Chibok girls. We also urge the international community to raise her case with Nigeria at every opportunity and to offer assistance to counter the continuing threat posed by armed non-state actors in the country.”

Online prayer event, which featured contributions from Reverend Yunusa Nmadu, Matt Redman, Pete Greig, and others, were held in her honour.

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