Leah Sharibu: Two Years In Captivity, Buhari Unmoved

08.02.20

FEBRUARY 2020 marks the second year Leah Sharibu was kidnapped by the terrorists fighting in northeast Nigeria.
Leah was among the over 100 female students of the Government Girls' Science and Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State, kidnapped by the Boko Haram on February 19, 2018.

She was refused freedom on account of her religion when other captives were released by the Islamic terrorists.
Some Christian authorities in Nigeria now believe that the federal government and security authorities are not sincere negotiating her release with the terror group, going by the claims from the group.

In a recent statement, the group claimed that their captive Leah Sharibu, had renounced her Christian religion, married one of their commanders and delivered a baby boy; showing embarrassing pictures of Leah wearing the hijab.

It came as a shock to Christian fellows in Nigeria, given that the young Leah was being held for her refusal to deny Christ.
“The story we are hearing now is that Leah Sharibu has been forcefully converted into Islam or married and has given birth to children, which, to us, is not the matter. The matter is for her to be safe and return home. So, we want to pray so that God will intervene in the matter,” said Rev. Joseph Hayab, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna.

Of course, a young ewe in the den of lions for over two years, what would one expect: defilement is minimum where the federal government has failed to resolve insecurity in the country.

The story surrounding Leah has given Nigerian Christians and critics the impression that some authorities of the federal government are working on the same cause with the so called insurgents, classified by world bodies as terrorists. The clergy in Nigeria doubts the sincerity of Nigerian security authorities particularly on the release of Leah and the execution of 11 Christians last December held by the terrorists. 

However, chairman of CAN Northern region, Rev. Yakubu Pam, in a converse note, said Leah would ever remain a worthy ambassador of Jesus Christ despite the persecution by the terrorists.

Pam stressed that the Church in the North would continue to support the position of Leah's parents who continued to demand the release of their daughter by the terrorists.

Employing Christian approach, over 1000 faithful in Kaduna are fasting and praying for the release of Leah. The programme would begin on Friday January31 and end on Sunday 3rd of February.

“We are going to pray that those honest security men, God should help them and those that are dishonest, God should change their hearts,” said Rev. Hayab.

Critics fear that the dishonest security men Hayab referred to are those in authority but secretly behind persecution of Christians in the country; and using Leah to negotiate the release of others of interest to the government.

Nevertheless, at the end of the three-day coordinated prayer, the Christians would gather in Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria for interdenominational prayer on the affairs of Nigeria.

CAN also directed Christians particularly in the north where Christians are mostly persecuted to mourn by wearing black clothes throughout the first Sunday of February.

“The people will pray specifically against the evils happening in the country; the recent killing of Rev. Lawan Andimi and other Christians that have been killed by Boko Haram,” Hayab said.

 

 

Leah Sharibu: Dying for her faith as Buhari finds no solution

By Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu

That Moment;

I dream of it every night.

By day, it plagues my thoughts and torments my mind. Dreaming of that Moment comes in different versions; in one, I am rescued by my late great-grandfather, in another, it is by the President of Nigeria, and yet in another, I find myself running inside a bush with a gunshot wound to the stomach, holding on to my overflowing intestines.

I spend time trying to understand that Moment, but there might not be much to understand, simply because I was not thinking when it happened. I watched it happen right in front of me, almost as if I was not involved. Yet, it was all about me. What I said. What I did.  

What could I have done differently for that Moment not to have been?

Nothing. In life, things happen that one has little control over. It is like asking “what could I have done differently to not be hungry right now?” Not a thing.  I am hungry because I am human and when a human being is not fed for three days, she feels hungry. Or what could I have done differently to not shiver in this biting cold?  Not one thing. When a human being has only a piece of wrapper tied around her chest in a cold, dark forest, she will shiver.

I shiver. My body shivers, my heart shivers, but my soul stands strong. My mind is fixed on one thing, that nothing could have changed that Moment.

Yet, the pain that Moment brings is real; the crushed hopes of never running into my mother’s outstretched arms, images of my father once rubbing my head with his two hands, patting my back lovingly, and asking if I am alright. Desolate expectations of scooping up my beloved brother, Nathaniel, in my arms and swirling him round and round, until he never wants to be swirled again and begs to be let down.

I would let him down only after his toothy smile almost became fixated, and his eyes began to widen; then would I set him on the floor and sit with him.

Mother would proceed to bend and sit on the bare floor with us, to fully share in our joy, but Father would urge her to get up and bring what food she had prepared.

I am famished, but not for food. I am famished for the feeling of love from my family and friends. Famished from the feeling of security that my life was before the night we were lured inside the back of a fake army truck and driven deep inside the forest. Famished, yes, but nothing that food can satisfy.

My poor mother’s knees will be cracked and sore from kneeling to pray. Her eyes and lips will be swollen from crying and biting. I pray she does not starve to death fasting for my deliverance. Nathaniel, his unending questions about my absence, directed at Mother, will be like pouring kerosene on burning firewood. Papa will hold his head high and worry in a way that tries to be strong for Mother, saying over and over to her that I shall soon be released. His pains will be tinged with pride, for my refusal to renounce my faith. As if that was a conscious decision I had to make. Truth be told, I did not think about what I said or what I did that day. I was just being me, Leah Sharibu.

It began when it got to my turn to climb into the back of the truck taking us back home to Dapchi. I stood before the truck and stretched my right hand towards the man who would help each girl climb on to the back of the truck. My soul uttered, “Thank you, Jesus.” I did not realise it, but my lips did the same, too.  

“What did you say?” the man asked, quickly moving the machine gun he held with his left hand over to the right hand.
“Nothing, sir.” I replied, for I did not really say anything, in the sense of his asking.

He transferred his machine gun back to his left hand and stretched out his right arm, I held out my right hand to hold his, to be helped on to the truck, like all the girls before me did. He drew his hand farther back and with a force I have only seen on TV wrestling shows, slapped my face five times. He would go on to kick me out of the way and continue helping other girls climb the truck.

I stood up and reached out my hand to him, begging for help getting on the back of the truck. I was kicked back again. I kept standing up, and kept being kicked back. I vomited, first, water, then a thick yellow-green substance. The last substance I threw up was blood, vomited after he helped the last girl climb the truck, for as he locked the truck, I staggered to him and held out my hand to be helped onto the back of the truck. He raised his leg and kicked. I vomited blood and passed out, not from pain, but from the sight of my fellow captives being driven home. Why? He could have let me go home to hug my family and then shot me right in front of them. I will be mourned, buried and remembered.

It must have been many months since that Moment. In this cold, dark place, I have no knowledge of daylight or darkness. Once in a while, a hand slips in and passes a cold plate of bread and pap. There is a small bucket of water with a cup. I feel my way to it and drink. Besides is a bucket for relieving myself. When I am not sleeping, I sit still on the bed, or I walk around the room singing, praying, reciting scriptures, fully assured that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord is with me

This work is creative non-fiction derived from what is known about the experiences of Leah Sharibu, the 15-year-old girl kidnapped with other schoolgirls by a faction of Boko Haram in Dapchi, northeastern Nigeria.
Doctor Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu is a researcher, teacher, non-fiction and fiction writer, and a public intellectual.
Culled from Pambazuka

 

 


Legacy that shouts
Only a dispensary orderly was found qualified to keep the pharmacy of a federal hospital. He had just Standard Six Certificate. Late Rev. Aggrey Ashibuogwu could have converted the drugs in his custody to personal wealth as it has been the tradition of people, but he chose to leave a lasting legacy.

Evangelist Nnanna Kalu, a pastor with Church of God Mission, and notable pharmacist, in 1978, met Rev. Aggrey Ashibuogwu. The Evangelist said when he was transferred to Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, then General Hospital, he discovered that there was no drugs in the hospital. Before then, he had made a promise to himself to transform anywhere he was posted to work.

But when he got to Asaba, Kalu had one problem: he didn’t know who to trust. He wanted to order drugs from the Federal Government, but he was not sure of who could keep the pharmacy without stealing or conniving with people to steal the drugs, which used to be a common experience in the public sector.

Evangelist Kalu confessed that, yes, he was a Christian, but not a vibrant one. He began to relate with people to enable him appreciate the environment.

By the simple disposition of Rev. Aggrey Ashibuogwu, honesty and efforts to deliver beyond the capacity of a standard six certificate holder, Kalu seemed to like him.

One morning, Late Rev. Aggrey Ashibuogu gave him a tract from the Church of God Mission, which he read and became hungrier for the word of God. Kalu eventually located a branch of the church in Asaba.

Since 1978 when he had this encounter, Evangelist Kalu has remained a born again Christian, a pastor with Church of God Mission and has travelled wide, preaching the word of God. Through the simple Christian behavior of one man, Evangelist Kalu has climbed the ladder, redeeming the elect and winning more souls for Christ.

Kalu eventually placed Aggrey in charge of the pharmacy. Aggrey had the whole opportunity to steal the drugs and became reach, but he chose to live by the virtues as taught him by Jesus Christ.

He didn’t have the money to live affluently like many others around him, but he was satisfied with the riches which Jesus Christ gave him. He left a legacy at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba. Everyone says he was honest.

When he died, the only property he left behind him was a single mud house in his country home. When the authority of the Church visited his home, seeing the house, they suspended the burial, to build a house for his family, which he left behind. He died a happy man, satisfying his calling and his Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

His wife, Deaconess Grace Ashibuogwu admitted missing him, but she was full of smiles onto the Lord to have given her husband the grace to live a simple fulfilled life. “Word is not enough to describe him,” she said in her tribute to him.
Not the usual accolade to every deceased; everyone who knew him said every word spoken about Aggrey is true.

“The value of life’s journey is not measured by how beautiful, brilliant; or how competent and rich a man had been, but the character and every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice that enrich and encourage others to emulate such example,” Pastor Eziafa Ashibuogwu who is his second son, remarked. Literally, the full name, ‘Aziafakaego’ means ‘good name is greater than riches.’

At the district office of National Presbyterian Church in Asaba is Rev. Francis Umemezia, who remarked that memories of Ashibuogwu’s honesty and humility would ever linger in his mind.

He is so chosen as the personality of the moment, given a time, like this, when Nigeria requires genuinely honest people; leaders, who, with great courage and sincerity of purpose, are required to make sacrifice for the unity and economic growth of the country.

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