The Islamist militant group Boko Haram is demanding 100 Billion Nigerian Naira, which to roughly $270,000, for the release of Christian teenager Leah Sharibu. Sharibu has been held captive by the brutal terror group since February this year, when 112 female students from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College Dapchi in the northeastern state of Yobe were abducted by the militants.
Sharibu remains the only Dapchi schoolgirl who still remains in the clutch of these deadly individuals. Last month, the group threatened to kill her and admitted she had been held back due to her refusal to renounce her Christian beliefs. Then, earlier this month, the ISIS-affiliated group, which known as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), announced that they would not kill Sharibu, but instead that she would become its “slave for life.”
Nigerian news outlet The Herald is now reporting that the group has demanded a N100bn ransom for the life of the teenager, as fears grow that she could be killed at any moment. However, according to a source who is negotiating for her release, the Nigerian federal reserve is concerned about the precedent it would be setting if it bows to the financial demands made by these merciless terrorists.
According to the Herald, there are concerns that Boko Haram “would use the money to acquire upgraded weapon systems to be unleashed on Nigerians in the future.”
“It is not that the government of Nigeria is not making efforts at getting Leah Sharibu out of the grips of the Boko Haram,” a diplomatic source reportedly said on the government’s predicament. “But we are aware that the terrorist organisation holding her is demanding N100bn. Though no amount is too much to get the soul of one innocent person out of danger, I think the government of Nigeria is considering many things.”
The source continued:
“We all know that elections are ahead and that the terrorist organisation may also be planning to embark on inflicting damage on the people; government has to be careful and also be diplomatic about it.
We are pleading that members of the Boko Haram sect be considerate in their demands as well. They should please release the girl to her parents.”
In addition, the military made strong statements ensuring the public that it was doing absolutely everything in its power to defeat Boko Haram and release captives such as Sharibu.
“Be assured that the military is doing all it should to rescue all the captives in the Boko Haram’s hold. The Nigerian military is the creation of the Nigerian state and therefore, Boko Haram is a problem of the Nigerian state and the military is called upon to tackle the problem,” said Defence Information Brig. Gen John Agim.
“Therefore, the military needs the cooperation of the state and its citizens to tackle the problem. Our citizens should not stand aloof or believe that Boko Haram is a problem only for the military. No, we require everyone’s cooperation to end this insurgency.”
The American Center for Law and Justice has also involved itself in the case, advocating for Sharibu’s immediate release. “We’ve delivered a critical oral intervention at the U.N. on behalf of Nigeria’s Christians,” the ACLJ noted on a petition for Leah, which has garnered almost 100,000 signatures. “We’re sending a critical legal advocacy letter to the government of Nigeria demanding it act to free Leah. Christian children must be protected. Leah Sharibu must be brought home safely.”
In September, as Boko Haram’s threats became increasingly serious, an audio recording was released of Sharibu pleading for help. “I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation,” she said. “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. Thank you.”
In an interview with Christianity Today following the release of the audio, Sharibu’s father, Nathan talked of the impact Leah’s kidnapping is having on his family.
“We are very sad. The house is quiet,” he said. “We are so worried [the terrorists] could harm her.”
“We want the government to please help us. I believe they can rescue her if they want to. They can get her out if they try enough. They should please not allow her to get killed.”
Among Nigeria’s vast Christian community, however, Leah has become something of a hero. “Rather than discouragement, there is a lot of inspiration the Christian community is getting from the courage displayed by this 15-year-old high school girl,” said Para-Mallam, who has been in touch with Sharibu’s family throughout the ordeal.
— Micah Luka Zamani (@SireShekson) October 24, 2018
“Leah is a heroine of the Christian faith to many Christians, not just in Nigeria but around the world. Leah is inspiring many young girls,” he added, noting that Leah is “an icon of faith, courage, and heroism.”
“Nothing will change this fact and reality.”
Do continue to pray for this brave girl, that she might stay strong in the faith during her tribulation, and that she would be released very soon!
(H/T: The Herald)