Today marks two years since Leah Sharibu was taken into captivity by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
One of the reasons Leah remains in captivity is because of her Christian faith and the fact that she will not renounce that. Ultimately though, we know that chains can be broken and I very much hope that will be the case for Leah Sharibu.
I'm sorry I can't join other campaigners at the Nigerian High Commission today, but I've recorded the above video message in solidarity with all those striving to free Leah.
Today, I've also once again written to the Prime Minister, calling for the UK Government to do absolutely everything in its power to lobby for Leah’s release from captivity.
Read my letter to the Prime Minister below.
Dear Prime Minister,
Today, sadly, marks the second anniversary of the capture of Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl who is currently held captive by terrorists in north east Nigeria.
Leah was the only Christian among 110 girls abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, on 19 February 2018 by the al Barnawi faction of Boko Haram - also known as the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP).
The context of Ms Sharibu’s continuing captivity provides clear evidence that she has been held captive because of her religious beliefs. Of the 110 girls kidnapped, five died during the arduous journey to the terrorists' hideout. However, a month later, 104 were returned to Dapchi, following negotiations between the terrorists and the government. Ms Sharibu was not among them. She was, we understand, held back for refusing to convert as a precondition for release
The Nigerian government has a clear constitutional obligation to ensure that every citizen is "protected irrespective of his/her gender, culture and religious belief." However, in this instance, a minor was not only left in the hands of terrorists on account of her religious belief when her surviving colleagues were released; she also continues to suffer multiple and severe violations, including of her "right to freedom of religion or belief, freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, the right to physical and psychological integrity and the right […] to be cared for by […] her own parents."
It is a terrible indictment of the Nigerian government's failure to assist a vulnerable citizen, and of an international community that has not held it sufficiently to account for this. Given today’s two-year anniversary, I would greatly appreciate an update on any recent representations that have been made by the British Government to the Nigerian authorities regarding Ms Sharibu’s case.
I look forward to your reply.
David Linden MP