ABOVE: Save the Persecuted Christians Executive Director Dede Laugesen appeared on the Wednesday afternoon edition of CBN’s Newswatch to give an update on Leah Sharibu, who remains a captive of the Boko Haram. Newswatch can be seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel. For a programming schedule, click here.
Wednesday marked two years since the kidnapping of Nigerian Christian teenager Leah Sharibu by one of the most violent terrorist groups in the world.
The Boko Haram faction of the Islamic State West African province abducted Sharibu along with 109 of her female classmates. In the days that followed, five of the girls died in captivity and 104 were released about a month later.
Sharibu, however, remains a captive because she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and convert to Islam, so Boko Haram announced that she would be a slave for life. She was only 14 years old at the time of her capture.
Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), an organization that advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, continues to work for Sharibu to be freed.
“Over many agonizing months for her family, it has been reported that Leah was alive, then killed in captivity, thought again to be alive and, most recently, that she is the mother of a newborn son,” said STPC Executive Director Dede Laugesen. “Just last week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed the Nigerian government is committed to ensuring that every child taken by insurgents will be released. Two years after Leah was taken, the world wants to see action rather than talk.”
During a speech last week at the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in Ethiopia, Buhari declared his government “will not relent until every child, boy or girl, every Nigerian adult in custody of Boko Haram, is freed.”
“Let me categorically reassure you of the steadfast commitment of the Government of Nigeria to ensure the freedom of all kidnapped children from the shackles of Boko Haram,” he said.
The STPC has urged the US to send a special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region due to the extreme violence against Christians there. The organization delivered an open letter to President Trump about this urgent need last month. At least 1,000 Christians were killed in the region in 2019 with more than 5,000 killed since 2015, according to a UK report.
As CBN News reported last month, Sharibu’s family spoke out after media reports broke claiming she had a baby boy while in captivity. Her family described the reports as just a rumor.
Dr. Gloria Puldu, a spokesperson for the family and the head of the Leah Foundation told Sunday Punch that all they want is to have their daughter home alive, with or without a baby.
Puldu said, “What we even desire is to see a proof-of-life so that we see Leah by ourselves.”
“The most important thing is that we want her to be alive. And if she is alive, we will praise God for that,” she continued. “They should release her, despite whatever condition she is in. That is all; it doesn’t matter whether she is pregnant or with a baby. Is it not better to have your child alive? So, it doesn’t matter, all we are interested in is her life and safety.”
Sharibu’s father, Nathan told the Hausa service of Voice of America that he has not been contacted by Nigerian authorities about his daughter and also was unsure about the credibility of the recent reports.
As CBN News reported last June, Sharibu’s mother Rebecca traveled to Washington, DC to advocate for her daughter’s release. Save the Persecuted Christians and the International Committee on Nigeria organized a delegation of Nigerians to travel to Washington, DC to share their stories with leaders at the White House and Capitol Hill.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst country in the world for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.