Exactly one year ago, Leah Sharibu, the only Christian among the 112 female students kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe clocked 15 then – her first birthday since being frisked away. There were no cakes nor birthday songs. Just horror.
Another May 14 is here and that dark moment is on repeat. This time, Sharibu is 16 and, just like in 2018, she won’t be celebrating that milestone as a free girl. There is not even the luxury of spending time with family and friends — the least she could ask for.
Sharibu was abducted alongside some other girls from Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state, on February 19, 2018. All the girls who were captured were subsequently released, except five who reportedly died in detention, but Sharibu was held back for “refusing to renounce her faith”.
Tuesday makes it a year and three months after her kidnap; a year and three months of living in fear, sorrow and anguish. She is somewhere enveloped in fear, in the company of the same persons that took her away from her friends and family; from every good thing.
In August last year, a recording of Sharibu begging the president to come to her rescue and reunite her with her family was obtained
She had said: “I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted in GGSS Dapchi. I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation.
“I also plead to the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives. Kindly help me out of my predicament. I am begging you to treat me with compassion, I am calling on the government, particularly, the president to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you.”
Shortly after the other girls were released, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised his government would not abandon her.
“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,” a statement from Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, had read.
Since then, Buhari has continued to restate his commitment in bringing her home.
After alleged neglect from government officials, the president called Leah’s mother in October last year and promised her the daughter would return peacefully.
But the waiting game continues.