John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern states and Abuja has condemned statements by the Nigerian embassy in Washington D.C, United State of America, accusing Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu, mother of Leah Sharibu and three others of making “false” claims against the federal government.
The embassy, according reports, had on June 30, 2019, protested against a recent event in the US capital by Heritage Foundation, where some victims of terrorism and farmers/herders conflict in northern Nigeria allegedly made “false” claims against the federal government.
The Heritage Foundation had on June 11, 2019, invited Sharibu, Alheri Bawa Magaji and Napoleon Adamu, victims of violence and insecurity to Washington to share their experiences.
The Nigerian embassy, in a protest letter issued by the Senior Counsellor/Head of Chancery to the Ambassador to the U.S., Mohammed Suleiman, claimed that the four victims, including Sharibu, whose daughter, Leah, is still being held captive by the Boko Haram terrorists, gave “false and uncorroborated allegations about their experiences” at the event.
However, worried by the embassy’s statement, the Vice Chairman of Northern CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, described it as “insensitive, inhuman and irresponsible”.
Hayab further urged the federal government to sanction the embassy staff that made the statement and prevail on him to apologise to Sharibu and others for saying their painful experiences were false.
He said for the past one year, Leah’s mother had been in ceaseless pain and trauma, crying for help for the release of her daughter, stressing that such utterances can only come from people without human feelings.
While calling on the federal government to do everything possible to ensure the release of Leah, the cleric added that Nigerians know that the terrorists released other girls that were abducted with Leah, but refused to release her because she refused to convert to Islam.
“How could any humane and sensible person described such experience as false? This is a woman that has been crying out for help for the release of her daughter. What we expect from that embassy staff is to console her, to calm her down and assure her that government is doing everything to get her daughter,” Hayab said.
According to him, “This statement coming from the Nigerian embassy in the U.S is insensitive, inhuman and irresponsible and we call on the federal government to sanction the embassy staff and make him apologise to Rebecca Sharibu and others for saying their painful experiences are false.”
He said the federal government or the ministry of foreign affairs must take action against whoever issued that statement, adding that “these are the kinds of people that are creating disaffection in Nigeria and making people think bad of our country.”
He noted that such statement seemed to confirm insinuations in some quarters that “there is a lie going on in this government. This woman has been crying out for help in the past one year and all you should say is to assure that something is being done to ensure the release of her daughter.
“But to say that she lied is an insult. The federal government must compel that embassy staff to apologise because I don’t think the federal government asked him to make that statement.
“If the federal government asked him to do that, then they should apologise because it is an assault on people who are facing persecution in a country that is facing security challenges.Leah’s mother has a right to cry out and express her fears the way she wants.”