Half Decade “far too long”: Human Rights Group Calls for Release of Nigerian Teen, Leah

Leah Sharibu. Credit: CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the UK-based human rights foundation, is calling for the release of Leah Sharibu who has been in captivity since 2018 saying the half-a-decade period she has spent with her kidnappers is “far too long”.

Leah is among the 110 girls that were abducted from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi in Yobe State by members of the Boko Haram militia on 19 February 2018. 

While most of the girls were released the following month, on 10 March 2018, Leah, aged 14 at the time of her abduction, was not set free for reportedly refusing to convert to Islam

“Five years is far too long. Leah’s continuing imprisonment by a deadly terrorist faction is emblematic of the Nigerian government’s resolute failure to combat the threats posed by multiple insurgencies,” CSW Founder President, Mervyn Thomas, says in a statement published five years after the abduction, February 19. 

Mr. Thomas says the current government has failed in securing Leah’s freedom. 


“The current Nigerian government is approaching the end of its final tenure, and it may be too late for it to make good on its promises to secure Leah’s freedom,” he says. 

When the other girls were set free in March 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari assured the people of God in the West African country that his government would not relent in its efforts to bring Leah safely back home.

In the February 19 statement, Mr. Thomas says that the international community "must hold it (government) to these promises by continuing to raise her case with the government at every remaining opportunity.”

“The government must also be prompted to do far more to combat the terrorist groups who kill indiscriminately and who view the lives of innocent civilians and even children as means through which to extract exorbitant ransoms," the CSW official says.

He adds that the government "must root out anybody who is complicit in the violence from the military, and it must redouble protections for vulnerable communities like the one from which Leah was taken." 

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Mr. Thomas says that if the government is unable to deal with the insecurity issue, “again the international community must step in, assisting where possible, holding it to account for its failures where necessary, and insisting that the next administration prioritizes the tackling of insecurity and the release of every captive.”

“Leah’s captivity cannot be allowed to continue, and we must not allow ourselves to become inured to the appallingly relentless suffering of Nigerian citizens."

"Every day that both of these issues remain unaddressed should be a blight on the conscience not just of members of the Nigerian government who still have the capacity for honest introspection, but of all those who have the power to act and do not,” CSW Founder President says. 

Meanwhile, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on the Presidential candidates in the February 25 general elections to make “a commitment” to Leah’s freedom should they be elected.  

We are also demanding that the presidential candidates should make clear promises about what they would do to secure the release of Leah Sharibu who represents all those in captivity in the hands of Boko Haram. They have not made a commitment to her freedom,” Rev. Daniel Okoh has been quoted as saying at a Sunday, February 19 event. 


Rev. Okoh said that he found it regrettable that none of the Presidential candidates has made a commitment on what to do to release Leah Sharibu from Boko Haram captivity.

He said that Leah’s refusal to abandon her Christian beliefs, even in the face of danger, "has inspired and will continue to inspire many people around the world to stand up for what they believe in and fight for justice and freedom of belief for all the people around the world."

The official of the organization that includes the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said they will continue to push for Leah's release “as long as we believe that Leah is alive".

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.