The father of a Nigerian Christian girl kidnapped from her school in February says he is torn between concern for his daughter and encouragement that she refuses her abductors’ demands that she abandon her Christian faith.
The girl, identified as Leah Sharibu, 14, by International Christian Concern, is one of 110 abducted 19 Feb. from the government girls’ school and technical college in Dapchi, Yobe state in the country’s northeast. On 21 March, the abductors surprised the girls’ parents and community when they released 104 of the girls. Five others are reported to have died during the month of captivity. That leaves one girl, Leah, under abduction.
“All of them were released. They said some were dead there and my daughter is alive but they cannot release her because she is a Christian,” the girl’s father, Nata Sharibu, told a Nigerian radio station after the release of the 104, according to the Nigerian news agency Vanguard.
“They gave her the option of converting in order to be released but she said she will never become a Muslim,” Sharibu said: “I am very sad but I am also jubilant, too, because my daughter did not denounce Christ.”
The BBC reports that the Nigerian government says it will not abandon the girl in captivity.
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, is “committed to the freedom of the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity,” a government statement said, according to the BBC. “The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring [her] safely back home to her parents. The lone Dapchi girl will not be abandoned.”
A BBC report on 21 March said the kidnappers had released 101 girls. The figure reported 23 March was 104.