The single remaining Nigerian teenager still being held captive by Boko Haram following a raid on her school in February had her 15th birthday yesterday (14 May) in captivity, reported Nigeria’s Premium Times.
Leah Sharibu was the only Christian taken when the militant Islamist group abducted 110 girls during a February raid on a school in Dapchi, in the north-eastern state of Yobe. Boko Haram later released 104 of the girls, with the remaining five thought to have died in captivity.
The attack came almost four years after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, in neighbouring Borno state. Some 112 Chibok girls are still missing.
Leah continues to be held because she refuses to denounce her faith, according to her father, Nathan. He said in March, after hearing that Leah had turned down an opportunity to be released if she converted to Islam, that he was “very sad but also jubilant because my daughter did not denounce Christ”.
Leah also refused to blend in with other captives by wearing a hijab, according to the released girls. Aisha Wali, Deputy Director of the Yobe state Women’s Affairs Ministry, said the girls revealed in meetings following their release that they tried to protect Leah, the only Christian among them. “The students said they were calling her Ladi and they gave her a hijab to wear, but she refused,” US-based Christian World Magazine reported.
When Boko Haram members drove girls back to Dapchi to release them, they warned their families not to let their children return to the school, which remains empty, according to the magazine. The name Boko Haram loosely translates as “Western education is forbidden”.