Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that it has not abandoned efforts to rescue Leah Sharibu, the Christian schoolgirl left behind in Boko Haram’s captivity.
Government said those involved in negotiating her release are doing so; on a daily basis.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told State House correspondents who raised concerns over her fate, yesterday, that tortuous negotiations are still going on, daily, to secure her safe release.
The terrorists have held onto Leah, since February 19, when she, including 110 schoolmates were abducted in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Sharibu, whose 15th birthday was marked by her family on Monday, was not released along with her mates, one month after the abduction because she reportedly rejected their demand to denounce her faith and become a Muslim.
Boko Haram insurgents, who made a big show of returning the abducted girls to Dapchi, in a convoy of vehicles, and even addressed crowds in the town, without a confrontation from security forces, have kept mute about Leah.
Regardless, the federal government said the insurgents were not attacked when they brought back the girls because it reached an agreement with them not to harm the girls but return them safely, in exchange for ceasefire; from the Armed Forces.
Leah’s continued captivity has elicited concern from Nigerians who demand more positive action from government, to ensure her release, along with the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls, even as the issue came up prominently during talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump, in Washington, the United States of
America, earlier this month.
Leah’s father, Nathaniel, had, on her birthday, appealed to the media not to relent but put pressure on the government to ensure his daughter’s release.
Sharibu made the appeal on Political Platform, a programme on RayPower 100.5 FM, to mark his daughter’s birthday.
Back in Aso Rock, when he was asked why nothing had been heard from the government, with regards to Leah, the minister replied: “I think Mr. President actually addressed that issue in Washington and my position is always the same that; we are yet to resolve the issue of six girls. 111 girls were kidnapped, 105 were returned and we are busy, on daily basis, asking and negotiating and asking what happened to those five, officially, at least, and then, what is delaying the young girl, Leah Sharibu?
“Negotiations with insurgents are quite tortuous and complicated at times but, I can assure you, we are not leaving her to her fate and, those who should, are daily busy working on her release.”
Asked again what was torturous about the negotiations since the terrorists released the girls in broad daylight, the minister replied: “Anybody who negotiates with insurgents and terrorists in the world will know that it is not a direct face-to-face negotiation as we are doing. Thank you.”