Releasing Leah from the Den of Terrorists

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Thirty-two days after the release of the kidnapped Dapchi girls by Boko Haram terrorists, Leah Sharibu, the only Christian amongst the girls has remained in the captivity of her abductors, a situation fast raising intense concerns, writes Abimbola Akosile

Torah, the doctrine of Judaism, had introduced Leah by describing her with the phrase: “Leah had tender eyes”, Wikipedia says. There is, however, a subsisting argument as to whether the adjective: “tender” should be taken to mean “delicate and soft” or “weary”. That debate is unending.

But the story of the interpretation of how Leah’s eyes became weak, Torah stated, is that Leah was destined to marry Jacob’s older twin brother, Esau, both of whom were polar opposites. While Jacob was a God-fearing scholar, Esau being a hunter, indulged in idolatry and adultery. But since Laban, her father, had two daughters and his sister, Rebekah, also had two sons, the practice then was that they would be paired in order of seniority.

By tradition, therefore, the older daughter (Leah) was to marry the older son (Esau), and the younger daughter (Rachel) would marry the younger son, Jacob.”

Knowing this, Leah, the Bible recorded, spent most of her time, weeping and praying to God to change her destined mate, the idolater and adulterer. This was why Torah described Leah’s eyes as “soft” from weeping. Indeed, the Bible further recorded that God hearkened to Leah’s tears and prayers and allowed her to marry Jacob even before Rachel, who was destined to marry him, did.

Dapchi’s Leah Sharibu appears to share something close with the Biblical Leah and that is faith – trusting God to intervene in her case, regardless of the challenges. Even when forsaking one’s faith in the face of death would have been considered smart and biblical (if the story of Peter is worthy of sharing), Leah Sharibu stood her grounds and would rather she was killed instead.

On Monday, February 19, 2018, at about 5:30pm, 110 schoolgirls, aged between 11 and 19 years, were reportedly kidnapped by the notorious Boko Haram terrorist from their school, the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, located in Bulabulin, Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe State.

The federal government immediately deployed the Nigerian Airforce and other security agencies to search for the schoolgirls and ensure their return, even though the governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, had blamed the Nigerian soldiers for having removed a military checkpoint from the town.

Immediately, the news hit the airwave, the rage and disappointment that followed were expected, coming four years after the appalling experience of the Chibok girls, some of whom are still stuck with their abductors. Some are also believed to have caught the Stockholm syndrome.

Luckily, however, a month and two days after, the presidency on March 21, announced that 109 of the girls had been released. The announcement made during an ongoing Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, however, noted that whilst five of the girls were allegedly killed during the process of their kidnap, a certain Leah Sharibu was not left off the hook because she refused to renounce her faith. Leah is a Christian.

Days after the release of some of the girls, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, reportedly raised false hope that negotiations on the release of Leah was ongoing, adding also that she would soon join other girls and reunite with her family. At some point, he was even quoted as saying she had been released.

But as at the time this edition of Sunday THISDAY went to bed last night, Leah was still very much with her abductors except she was just released this morning. Suffice it to say, however, that the police too had since denied the alleged statement by their principal, saying he might have been misquoted.

It was two months yesterday that some of the Dapchi girls were released and there are no signs yet that Leah would be home soon with the rest of her family. Whilst it is important to acknowledge some of the efforts of the federal government and its resolve to bring Leah back home, perhaps, it is equally important to establish that government might have rested its oars as far as her case is concerned.

As it is, if sufficient care isn’t taken, hers might be like those of the now ‘forgotten’ Chibok girls, whose plight, unfortunately, formed the fulcrum of the debate that brought the Muhammadu Buhari government into office. Even more niggling is the fact of the grounds upon which Leah has been allegedly held back, a situation which makes the possibility of her release a lot more complicated, knowing the stand of this anti-social group – Boko Haram – on religion and western education.

Perhaps, for this one lost sheep, it would not be a bad idea if the shepherd doubled the effort it took to release over a hundred others. The task of releasing Leah from these terrorists should be taken seriously, because of the religious slant her being held back has taken. Government should double its stripes and get even tougher. It is one assignment it cannot afford to fail.