The parents of 15-year-old Leah Sharibu are getting desperate. The couple was informed by their daughter’s captors that Leah has been given an execution deadline.
“The terrorist threatened to kill Leah in October if they don’t get any response to their demands. Time is running out, that is why I am calling on the government to keep talking to them,” Nathan told reporters. Put more succinctly, Leah is “facing a death sentence.”
What Is Being Done to Rescue Leah Sharibu?
President Muhammad Buhari called Leah’s mother, Rebecca Sharibu, on October 3, 2018, to communicate his commitment to “do everything we can to bring them back.”
Today I spoke with Mrs Rebecca Sharibu, to reiterate our determination to bring her daughter Leah back home safely. The thoughts & prayers of all Nigerians are with the Sharibu family, & the families of all those still in captivity. We will do everything we can to bring them back
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 3, 2018
No information is available at this point to indicate what Buhari and his government are doing or planning to do to bring Leah back.
Leah and more than 100 other schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school in Dapchi, Nigeria, in February. This is not the first time schoolgirls have been kidnapped. In April 2014, 200 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok town, Nigeria. Some of those girls were released after the government negotiated with the captors, but some either remain in captivity or are feared dead. Their captors are Boko Haram terrorists. While the majority of the girls which were kidnapped in February have either been released or died in captivity, Leah is the sole girl from her school remaining with the terrorists. Her father, Nathan, believes they kept her because she refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
Earlier this year, Nathan told USA Today: “My daughter is alive, but they wouldn’t release her because she is a Christian. They told her they would release her if she converted, but she said she will never become a Muslim. I am very sad, but I am also overjoyed because my daughter did not denounce Christ.”
Leah Sharibu’s Family Is Praying for Her Return
The Sharibu family are members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a Christian denomination in Nigeria with about 10 million members.
While the Sharibu family is vehemently disputing claims that they sued the Nigerian government for damages for failing to intervene on her daughter’s behalf, they have been vocal about their appeals for the government’s assistance. The Nation reports the Sharibus called on the government, and President Buhari in particular, to help negotiate the release of their daughter before the October deadline at a press conference in Jos, Nigeria. Some critics of Buhari believe the government has had an attitude of “laxity” concerning Leah and her plight. One journalist, Adele Kupoluyi, writes, “The telephone call by the president is in order but Nigerians would be happier to see the incarcerated girls hale and hearty.”
Prior to the death sentence message Nathan received from the terrorists, a journalist obtained an audio recording of what is believed to be Leah appealing to the government to come to her aid. In her native Hausa language, Leah says:
I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted from Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi. I am calling on government and people of goodwill to get me out of this problem. I am begging you to treat me with compassion, I am calling on the government, particularly, the president, to pity me and get me out of this serious situation.
UNICEF reports that the terrorist group Boko Haram, which means “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin,” has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013.