Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Presidency yesterday reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to ensuring the safe return of Leah Sharibu and others still in the captivity of the Boko Haram sect.
Sharibu, the lone Christian student of the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State was held back by a faction of Boko Haram terrorists, when her peers that were kidnapped along with her on February 19, 2018, were freed one month after.
Speaking to a group of journalists in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the federal government had continued to sustain its efforts to get the girl and others released.
“Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors,” he said.
The presidential spokesman made the remarks while responding to concerns by well-meaning Nigerians that she might have been harmed, by her abductors.
He dismissed as mere speculations, various claims in the media about the girl, particularly the influential media, describing them as false news and insisted that she was alive.
He said whereas kidnapping for ransom should not be encouraged, the federal government was still exploring other options meant to secure Leah’s release.
“Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers, ISWA, to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.
“Contrary to false reports, she is alive – given assurances from our security agencies – and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families.
“Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged. This means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists: refrain from rewarding their heinous crimes with payment.
“With the abduction of loved family and friends, the government understands how difficult these times are for them, but government is pursuing many options to ensure the safe return of Leah Sharibu.
“We must commit to law and communication, using the breadth of strategies at our disposal: legal initiatives, stakeholder cooperation, involvement of all relevant parties and the use of the latest hostage negotiation techniques.
“Kidnapping for ransom is rising across the Sahel. We must – collectively – make sure we implement best practice to prevent its exploitation,” he said.
Shehu, therefore, appealed for patience while the matter is being handled, saying the federal government was fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as this could be costly.