Leah Sharibu, others’ abduction hits two years today
• I won’t allow religion divide us, says Buhari
• President restates pledge to rescue abducted kids
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that Nigerians were all children of Abraham, and therefore, his administration would not sit back and allow terrorists divide the citizens on the basis of religion. He made the comment yesterday as the country today marks the second anniversary of the abduction of the Dapchi school children by Boko Haram terrorists.
In a statement personally signed by President Buhari, and made available to newsmen in Abuja, he also assured the nation that his government would not relent until all captives are released. “Two years ago, 110 innocent children from the town of Dapchi were taken, against their will, by the terrorists of Boko Haram. Out of the 110 children kidnapped, 107 survived the ordeal. Today, all but one –Leah Sharibu – have been returned to their families.
“Now aged 16, Leah remains in the hands of the terrorists – they say because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.“We say, as the government for and of all Nigerians, that no person has the right to force others to change their faith against their will and that all life is sacred.
“This government continues and seeks to secure the release of all children and captives of terrorists, and we do so regardless of their creed or the name of their creator.
“As we redouble our efforts for Leah’s return, we can never allow the terrorists to divide us – Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Christians. We are all children of Abraham. And all Nigerians have the same worth and rights before the law, and before God.”Nigeria woke up on February 19, 2018 to the shocking news of a replica of the Chibok experience (which took place on April 14, 2014). It was the abduction of the 110 innocent and defenceless girls from a government-owned secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State.
The Federal Government deployed the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies to search for the missing schoolgirls and to hopefully enable their return.A group, Live Abundantly, urged President Buhari to prioritise the quick return of Leah Sharibu and others girls in captivity to their families and communities.
The Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Ama Onyerinma, said that government must be held accountable for the safety and welfare of all citizens, most importantly the most vulnerable teenage girls, who fall prey to predators.Ama said: “On January 26, 2020, news broke that the abducted Sharibu had been delivered of a baby after a forced marriage to a Boko Haram commander. Though there has been much media attention on the story, there has been absolutely no comment from the Nigerian government or any of its related agencies
“The sinister aspect of this regrettable and despicable tale is that the victims are girls – school girls who were left in the safety of their school compound under the watchful eyes of administrators, yet terrorists succeeded in violently snatching them from the community and have continued to hold them under coercion.
“It should also be noted that no boys have (and we hope will never) been taken hostage as they do not serve the same role as this group of girls whose education has been irrevocably altered whilst they perform unpaid work and exist under the repressive force of their overlords.”
The group recalled that in 2019, the country marked the 30th anniversary of the Convention for the Rights of Children, yet only 24 of the 36 states have enacted the Child Rights Laws of which Nigeria is a signatory.“Our girls cannot be a footnote in a history of violence, human trafficking, forced marriage tinged with psychological manipulation and, lest we forget, enslavement by their subjugators who have violated every basic human right as well as the Nigerian laws. All laws which uphold their rights, welfare and security must be upheld in a humanistic and orderly manner.”Ama stated that emphasis must be placed on the security and welfare of all Nigerian children, particularly the girls, who become women that keep the society in revolution.
“They are the mothers, wives, sisters; they are the fibre of society and they perform the unpaid work necessary for society to function and progress.
“Nigeria as a nation must recognise and play a vital role in the development of their community, society and nation. Currently, the society is fraught with violence, trafficking, child labour and marriage, harassment, poverty and insecurity. Furthermore, the socio-economic and/or geographical location of a citizen does negate their rights to safely exist within their community neither should it dictate the efforts made to ensure their well-being and/or rescue from terrorists,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has said that Buhari’s vision of a unified, harmonious and purpose-driven country will be consistently followed, urging more understanding as the government tackles the myriad of challenges facing the country.
Adesina, who received a delegation from the Unity, Honour and Glory Initiative (UHG) in his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said “the nation needs more understanding and cohesion to tackle the challenges before us, and move forward.’’
The UHG initiative is a group of concerned Nigerians who believe citizens should reflect on the founding philosophy of unity, honour and glory, as captured in the national pledge, and start working collectively to own and build the country, regardless of differences.“On behalf of the President, I thank you for this visit, for your broadmindedness and understanding. We will continue to support initiatives that are focused on building peace and promoting harmonious living in the country,’’ Adesina said.He advised Nigerians to support the policies of the government, adding that President Buhari would continue to make sacrifices that would engender unity and cohesion in the country.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Dr. Felix Oisamoje, quoted the remarks of the then Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa on the need for unity of purpose in 1957: “Nigeria has now reached a critical stage in her history. We must seize the opportunity which has been offered to us to show that we are able to manage our own affairs properly. Every Nigerian, whatever his status, and whatever his religion, has his or her share to contribute to the crucial task; the cause for which no sacrifice will be too great. This we cannot do if we do not work together in unity.’ ’