The only Christian among the 110 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted last month by Boko Haram ran away from her kidnappers but was caught and brought back three days later, according to fellow captives, reports the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Leah Sharibu, 14, and two other girls walked for three days and, hungry and exhausted, asked for help from a family of nomadic Fulani people, one of Leah’s friends told the newspaper. The Fulani man reportedly said: “So you are the missing girls that we’ve heard about on the radio,” and then returned them to the Boko Haram camp.
The girls were taken on 19 February during a raid on their school in Dapchi, Yobe state, in the country’s northeast. Boko Haram released 104 of the girls on 21 March.
Sharibu’s parents were told that the militants did not want to let her go because she refused to convert to Islam. After hearing that his daughter was still being held captive, her father said: “I am very sad but I am also jubilant, too, because my daughter did not denounce Christ.”
On 23 March, the President of the Church to which Leah’s family belongs, released a statement, saluting her “courage, doggedness, and faith”.
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah M. Gado, who leads the Evangelical Church Winning All, confirmed that Leah was a member of his denomination and that she was the only Christian abducted and the only one not to be released “because she refused to denounce her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a Christian”.
“We in ECWA are thankful that the federal government negotiated the release of all the abductees, including Leah. We are also very happy that 104 of the girls, plus two other victims, have been released as at Wednesday, March 21, 2018 and are in safe hands,” his statement continued. “However, we are very surprised and sad that the Boko Haram abductors have refused to release Leah Sherubu simply because she is a Christian and would not give up her Christian faith for her release.
“We call on the Federal Government and all its agencies to ensure the immediate release of Leah Sherubu … without any conditions. Leah is a law-abiding Nigerian, who is at liberty to practise her Christian profession to the fullest.
“We condemn in strong terms any attempt to forcefully convert anyone from one religion to another. As a church we continue to pray for her release and the release of all abducted Nigerians.”