Lagos, Nigeria, Feb 23, 2021 / 07:49 pm (CNA).- Three years after Leah Sharibu was abducted from her school in Dapchi in Yobe State within Nigeria’s Diocese of Maiduguri, the Archbishop of Lagos has called on the country’s head of state to “do all in his power … to secure her release.”
In a Feb. 20 statement by the Director of Social Communications of Lagos Archdiocese, Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins says “it is sad” that the Nigerian school girl is still being held, three years after she was kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents.
Archbishop Adewale urges President Muhammadu Buhari to “do all in his power as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the one from whom all other security agencies take their orders, to secure her release.”
Leah is among the 110 girls abducted from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi in Yobe State by members of the Boko Haram militia Feb. 19, 2018.
While most of the girls were released the following month, Leah, aged 14 at the time of her kidnapping, did not regain her freedom for reportedly refusing to convert to Islam. Five other girls died while in captivity, according to reports.
Following the release of the 104 girls, Buhari said that his government will not relent in efforts to bring Leah safely back home.
Making reference to the assurances Buhari give in March 2018 for Leah’s release, Archbishop Adewale regrets that “she along with others are still languishing in the hands of their abductors till date.”
“We have been told that several efforts have been made to ensure her release, but we are yet to see them materialize,” the 61-year-old Nigerian archbishop says, adding that “one can only imagine the severe physical, emotional, and psychological torture she and her parents have been going through all these years.”
In the Feb. 20 statement issued by the Director of Social Communications of Lagos Archdiocese, Archbishop Adewale also calls on Buhari’s government to work toward the release of other abducted students “and unite them once again to their already distraught families.”
Multiple reports indicate that Boko Haram has been responsible for attacks and kidnappings in Nigerian schools. Just last week, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram militants raided the Government Science Secondary School in Kagara in Nigeria’s Niger State in the North-Eastern part of the country, kidnapping at least 20 teenage boys.
One student was killed during the Feb. 17 attack.
The militant group claimed responsibility for the December 2020 abduction of 300 boys from the Government Science School in Kankara, Katsina State, a territory covered by the Diocese of Sokoto. The boys secured their released after a week in captivity.
The Islamist militant group also claimed responsibility for the April 2014 abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok, Northeastern Nigeria. 100 of the girls are reportedly still missing.
In the Feb. 20 message, Archbishop Adewale also acknowledges with appreciation the January 27 appointment of Service Chiefs and reminds them of “the enormous responsibility ahead of them, especially the need to win back the full confidence of Nigerians in the military.”
The ordinary of Lagos further urges the new Service Chiefs to take the fight against insurgents to a higher level by “buoying the morale of the officers and men of the force and to employ sophisticated intelligence techniques to identify and further decimate the Boko Haram members and the bandits terrorizing the country.”