On February 19, 2018, some schoolgirls- estimated to be between 110 and 119 were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group- one of the country’s major threat to national security- from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government area of Yobe State, in the northeastern part of Nigeria. However, on 21st March 2018, the Federal government of Nigeria announced that Boko Haram terrorists had returned 106 of the kidnapped children, the lone abducted Christian girl- Leah Sharibu- wasn’t released as a result of her refusal to convert to Islam and that the group would only release her if she agreed to be converted.
This single act of standing up to her abductors has been described by many as an act of bravery and as such she has gained the support of Nigerian and non-Nigerian individuals and groups who have been contributing their own quota to ensuring her release majorly by involving themselves in the #FreeLeah online movement.
Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, also described Leah’s actions as impressive and commendable. In his words, “I was quite impressed with what I saw in that young girl, Leah Sharibu, who told her abductors that ‘No, you can’t take away from me, my freedom. When she said ‘No’, she spoke for all of us”. He added that Leah Sharibu represents every Nigerian irrespective of the diverse religious and cultural leanings.
Leah’s courageous spirit is no doubt extremely enviable and admirable. However, having to spend such a long period of time in captivity because of her revolutionary spirit is sad and unfortunate. For a country where freedom of religion is one of our basic human rights, Leah has been immensly let down.
Hopefully, all efforts to save her from her abductors pay off soon and she is reunited with her family in one piece. Not dead. not pregnant, not with a child and not severely malnourished.