President Muhammad Buhari has on Thursday promised to ensure he secures the rescue of the only Dapchi school girl still in Boko Haram captivity, Leah Sharibu. This is as he assured all Nigerians of government’s protection of their rights to practice their religion without coercion.
The president said these in a statement sent to EduCeleb.com and signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Recall that 110 students were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on 19th February from their school, the Government Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State. It was only on Wednesday that the abductors released 104 of them. Five reportedly died while one identified as Leah Sharibu is still in their captivity.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is as committed to the freedom of the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity as he was to the girls’ freedom when all 110 were in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists.
“The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls after she was held back by the terrorists over her decision, as reported, not to convert from Christianity to Islam.
“President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility,” the statement read in part.
EduCeleb.com reports that Miss Sharibu is a sixteen year old student in SS1F at the GGSTC. Her name abductors reportedly adduced that she was not to be released because she was Christian.
According to one of the freed girls, Miss Khadija Grema, Sharibu was not released because she is a Christian and she refused to convert to Islam. The news of her continued captivity left her mother in shock as she fainted upon hearing that.
Mr Buhari warned against any attempt to impose one’s religion on others as he empathised with the Sharibu family.
“The President is equally mindful of the fact that true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.
“To this effect, no one or group can impose its religion on another.
“His heart goes out to the isolated parents who must watch others rejoice while their own daughter is still away. The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned.
“President Buhari assures the Sharibu family that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that they also have cause to rejoice with their daughter soon,” the statement concluded.
Boko Haram has been violently spreading its ideology declaring western education as evil since 2009. Though largely attributed to Islam, it had indiscriminately attacked and killed people of diverse religions and destroyed mosques, churches, schools and other public places in the process.
Boko Haram’s act anathema to Islam
Meanwhile, the Director of Muslim Rights Concern, Ishaq Akintola had described the actions of Boko Haram as anathema to the dictates of Islam.
In a statement sent to EduCeleb.com, Professor Akintola also called for the unconditional release of Miss Sharibu.
He urged the Nigerian government to negotiate the young lady’s and other captives’ release.
The body of the statement is presented below.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns Boko Haram’s attempt to compel Leah to use hijab. Equally reprehensible is the attempt to force her to convert to Islam.
“We reiterate for the umpteenth time that Boko Haram’s doctrine is heretical and its methods stand in contradistinction to those of pristine Islam.
“The Glorious Qur’an asserts that there is no compulsion in Islam (2:256). It says Allah himself could have made the whole mankind Muslims if He had wished (11:118). It forbids forceful conversion or punishment of non-Muslims by Muslims and limits the role of Muslims to admonitions alone (lasta alayhinm bimusaytirin 88: 21 – 24). Furthermore, it declares that each shall have the right to follow his or her religion (lakunm diinukunm wa liya diin 109:1 – 6).
“Once again we reject Boko Haram as an Islamic group. We urge the leadership and members of the group to re-examine its ideological base. Leah Sherubu must be set free because the basis for holding her after setting her schoolmates free is faulty and unIslamic.
“We invite the Federal Government (FG) to widen the scope of dialogue with Boko Haram by incorporating doctrinal issues. Islamic scholars should be involved in such discussions with the insurgents. This process is sine qua non for the deradicalisation of Boko Haram. Military defeat of Boko Haram alone amounts to a pyrrhic victory without ideological re-engineering.
“We charge (FG) to go back to the negotiation table in order to secure the release of the only Christian girl among the Dapchi girls who is being held back by the insurgents. Nigerians have been united in their prayers for the release of the Dapchi girls. FG should note that Boko Haram is not as daft as many people think. By withholding the Christian girl, they seek to divide Nigerians once again along religious lines.
“MURIC expresses solidarity with the parents of Leah Sharibu, the Christian girl in captivity. Our hearts are heavy with grief over her plight. We salute her courage. Shame on Boko Haram for oppressing a lone, vulnerable and helpless girl. Shame on all those who suppress freedom of worship. We appeal to Nigerians to invoke special prayers in the mosques and churches for this Christian girl who had the courage to stare her oppressors in the face. We should also continue to pray for the remaining Chibok girls.
“As we round off, we repeat our exhortation to the Nigerian authorities: to set Leah Sharibu free is a task that must be done.”