Christians in Nigeria have demanded the release of Leah Sharibu, in a massive outpouring of support for the girl who refused to renounce Christ.
Leah was the only Christian schoolgirl kidnapped with 110 other girls from Dapchi on 19 February. All Muslim girls gained their freedom a month later (21 March) after a negotiation by the Nigerian government with Boko Haram.
Ondo State Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in, Western Nigeria in a statement said: “It is painful to note that Leah Sharibu the only girl that still remains with the Boko Haram is said to be the only lady that refused to renounce her Christian faith. With this development, It is clear that the battle is against Christianity. Information has it that the Boko Haram people came into Dapchi town majestically to return the girls.”
CAN state chairman, the Rev Ayo Oladapo declared: “When did it become a crime for a person to become a Christian in Nigeria?
“It is painful that the government, civil society organization, human right activist kept mute on the only Christian girl that is still held captive.”
The Christian body called on President Muhammad Buhari to use the security forces to gain the immediate release of Leah Sharibu.
Following the criticism and backlash against Islam, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has issued a statementcondemning the retention of the only Christian among the girls who was detained.
The Islamic rights group said, “Boko Haram’s doctrine is heretical and its methods stand in contradistinction to those of pristine Islam.” Adding that “the Glorious Qur’an asserts that there is no compulsion in Islam (2:256). It says Allah himself could have made the whole mankind Muslims if He had wished (11:118).”
The group claims Islam “forbids forceful conversion or punishment of non-Muslims by Muslims and limits the role of Muslims to admonitions alone.” And declared that it “rejects Boko Haram as an Islamic group. We urge the leadership and members of the group to re-examine its ideological base.”
The Islamic group declares that “Leah Sherubu must be set free because the basis for holding her after setting her schoolmates free is faulty and unIslamic.”
President Buhari’s spokesman said that it was the president’s duty under the constitution to protecdt all Nigerians irrespecdtive of faith or ethnic background.
H said: “The lone Dapchi Girl, Leah, will not be abandoned.”
Hassan John is West Arica Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image Credit/Leah’s family/family in Dapchi