President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday gave insight into why Leah Sharibu, who was held back by Boko Haram Islamist sect over her refusal to denounce her Christian faith a year ago, was yet to be freed.
Most of the Dapchi School Girls abducted alongside Sharibu have since regained their freedom because they are Moslems but Miss Sharibu was not released because she refused to denounce her faith.
Meanwhile, Mr Buhari has assured parents of Chibok girls still in the captivity of Boko Haram that he has not forgotten the girls and that efforts were still on to ensure their freedom.
Recall that many school girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, were abducted from their dormitory five years ago (April 14, 2014) during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, while Sharibu was kidnapped from her school, Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018 under Buhari.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in Abuja, stated that Buhari was aware that the promise he made was the main reason people of Chibok voted overwhelmingly for him in the February elections.
He said that though it was about five years the girls were taken away by their abductors, his government has so far succeeded in bringing back 107 of the girls, and that he will not rest until the remaining reunite with their families.
According to the statement, “Buhari assures parents that his administration is still on the matter.
“Diverse efforts are being intensified to secure release of the Chibok Girls, along with all hostages in Boko Haram captivity, including Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from her school, Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018.
“On Leah Sharibu’s abduction, the interlocutors have reported encouraging progress so far.
“Report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants.
“They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.
“At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire north-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram’s fears.
“Leah will be reunited with her family as soon as any conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation.
“The success of Nigerian military in subduing Boko Haram is evidenced by the large numbers of militants who have surrendered recently, especially in neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.
“A similar mass surrender of militants is expected to happen soon in Nigeria.
“While Nigerian military operations are ongoing, the government is also engaging with the militants but the talks have been affected by the factionalisation of Boko Haram – with one group adopting a hard line attitude and intensifying attacks on Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and another group engaging with the government for peaceful resolution.”
“He sends special greetings to the 106 girls sponsored by the federal government to continue their studies at American University of Nigeria, Yola.
“He encourages them to stay focused on becoming women who will inspire girls in Nigeria and around the world to triumph over the daily battles they face in a world that is often unfair to the girl-child.
“Buhari also extends his best wishes to Chibok girls in other schools in Nigeria and around the world.
“He sends special congratulations to Kauna Bitrus, who has excelled beyond expectations in her college in Maine, USA, and who is soon to receive a special ‘Against All Odds Award’ from her school.”