Eight months after her abduction, religious leaders in Nigeria have reiterated calls for the release of Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, without further delay.
Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria, Mr Yakubu Pam, and Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters, Mr Mohmamed Khalid, made the appeal at a press conference on the sidelines of the interfaith conference in Abuja on Friday.
Miss Sharibu was kidnapped alongside her schoolmates in February but was left behind after the federal government negotiated the release of the abducted schoolgirls a month later.
Following the negotiation, all the abducted girls were released, except Sharibu and five others who died as a result of the abduction.
According to the released schoolgirls, Sharibu was left behind because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
There has been various calls for the release of Sharibu. The federal government has also stated its commitment to ensuring that Sharbu returns home safe to her family.
“We are here today the two major religions in Nigeria, Christianity and Islam,” said Pam.
“The leaders are here and traditional rulers are also here to discuss about peace ahead of the 2019 general elections and we also find it very important today to address a burning issue that has been disturbing the peace of the country and that is the issue of the abduction of some of our innocent teenagers and young ladies, particularly Sharibu and others and we have heard that the abductors have said.
“We are here as religious leaders and traditional rulers to appeal to the conscience of the abductors of these innocent girls. I know too the mothers have also cried, the families have cried to the abductors of these innocent girls and well-meaning citizens of Nigeria have also cried.
“We want to appeal to them, please for the sake of God, let them release these innocent girls. They are very innocent and I believe that by doing this Nigeria will appreciate.”
Pam called on the abductors of Miss Sharibu to abandon their threat of executing her in order to save her family from the agony of losing a child in such a violent circumstance.
“We heard they said next week is their deadline and that is why in this meeting as we are discussing about the peace of this country, we felt that it is very important and very paramount to talk about this matter,” he said.
“The mother is in agony, the family is in agony and we are appealing to their conscience. Whatever it is, let them be lenient and also allow God speak to their heart.”
Pam also called on the government to do whatever it can within its powers to ensure Miss Sharibu is safely released and reunited with her family.
In his remarks, Khalid said the abductors of Sharibu are on their own and they do not represent Islam.
“We are here to speak on behalf of the bodies of the two main religions, Islam and Christianity. We want the world to understand that these people that are holding our children and other people in captivity are not representing anything, they are on their own. Islam is not asking them to abduct anybody and we the Muslims are going to join hands with anybody to do anything possible to secure Nigerians from their agony.
“We are appealing to them to rethink and revisit their minds so that they will release their captives, especially somebody like leah Sharibu,” Khalid said.
Khalid also said the abductors of Sharibu have no basis to hold her captive since her colleagues with whom she was abducted were released.
Khalid therefore appealed to the Federal Government to do whatever is necessary and secure the release of Miss Sharibu.
“We are appealing to the government to do anything possible to make sure that no Nigerian is in captivity,” Khalid said.