PRESIDENCY officials have declared that kidnapped schoolgirl Leah Sharibu who was abducted by a faction of Boko Haram terrorists in February last year remains alive and negotiations are ongoing to secure her release.
In February 2018, Leah was kidnapped along with her 105 classmates from Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State but while the others were released, she was detained. It has been rumoured that she has been killed but President Buhari’s spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu, denied this saying the government will not give up her.
Mallam Shehu said: “Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors. Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers Islamic State’s West Africa Province (Isawap) to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.
“Contrary to false reports, she is alive and given assurances from our security agencies, the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families. Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged and this means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists, so we should 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 the 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.”
Appealing for patience in dealing with the challenge this case poses, Mallam Shehu assured that the administration is fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as this can be costly. In the past, there have been several raised hopes about Leah being freed but each time, the hopes are dashed.