Abuja — The federal government has again reassured that Leah Sharibu, the teenager abducted by Boko Haram terrorists, is not dead.
However, despite this reassurance, her family has asked the federal government to ensure the release of their daughter before February 19, which will mark exactly one year of her abduction.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described as absolute fake news of the reported death of abducted Dapchi school girl.
He said the rumour of Sharibu's death, which surfaced just a few days to the presidential election, was another ploy by the political opposition to tarnish the image of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration and exploit primordial sentiments ahead of the polls.
According to him, "It is absolutely fake news. There is nothing like that," the minister said. "I think it is part of the opposition's strategies to throw everything at the administration and at the president. I think everyday, they are realising the hopelessness of their position.
"Everyday they are amazed by the support the President is receiving from every part of the country and they have decided that they are going to spread falsehood, inflame passion and make this election a Muslim-Christian affair or North-South affair, but people are not listening to them," Mohammed said.
Meanwhile, the family of Leah Sharibu has petitioned the federal government to ensure the release of their daughter before February 19, which will mark exactly one year of her abduction.
On the night of February 19, 2018, the 14-year-old Leah Sharibu was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from her school, Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State alongside 111 other girls.
All of the girls who survived the kidnap were later freed by the Boko Haram sect except Leah, who reportedly refused to denounce her Christian faith.
Her mother, Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu who was all tears at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, called for the release of her daughter as promised by the federal government.
She pleaded that President Muhammadu Buhari should do everything possible to ensure the release and safe return of Sharibu.
The distraught mother, who spoke in Hausa, recounted that President Buhari spoke with her on phone and gave her his assurance of Leah's release, which was backed up
with the visitation of a high-powered federal government delegation that had three ministers led by the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
She said: "I have come before you and the federal government to plead that you don't forget Leah. The president spoke with me on phone and encouraged me not to worry, and with the assurance that my daughter will be released. Three ministers also visited me and gave me assurance but till today, I haven't heard anything, hence my coming before you to plead.
"Leah is just 15 years old. The beauty of a promise is in its fulfillment. Please save my daughter. I plead with you to help me," she lamented.
Also speaking on her plight, Ambassador, IFES World Assembly, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, said there was the need for presidential aspirants to tell Nigerians what they hope to do to ensure Leah's release and that of others in captivity if she is not released before February 19.
He noted that this is a campaign era, adding that the silence from all the candidates has not been encouraging, stressing that her issue should be used at campaigns.
He affirmed that the issue of religion is a human rights issue, nothing that there is no reason for Leah to remain in captivity as a result of her refusal to renounce her faith and conviction without fear.
He said: "We will love to hear from all the presidential candidates what exactly they are planning to do to bring Leah to freedom if for any reason she is not released before February 19. We want to hear her name and story becoming a campaign issue.
"The silence from all the presidential candidates about Leah and others in captivity is not encouraging. So, we are using this appeal and thus campaign season to hear what the presidential candidates have to say about Leah's freedom. It is important for all Nigerians and the global community," he added.
Sharibu's denomination has called on all Christians to seek the face of God through prayers and fasting, come February 19.