Leah Sharibu still alive – FG
The Presidency on Saturday dismissed speculation that Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl held captive by Boko Haram, is dead.
It said Miss Sharibu is still alive and that the Federal Government is currently negotiating her release from the terrorist group.
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement shared on his official Facebook page.
Shehu said the Buhari administration will not give up on the safe return of Sharibu,a student of Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, who was kidnapped by a faction of Boko Haram terrorists in February 2018.
The presidential spokesman assured Nigerians that the government would not relent on the release of Sharibu, a Christian, who was denied freedom by the terrorist group because of her faith.
‘‘Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.”
Shehu was responding to a worrying cycle of speculations on whether Leah Sharibu had been harmed by her abductors.
He said emphatically that much of what is written about the girl in the press is untrue.
“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 time 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.
Appealing for patience in dealing with the challenge this case poses, the presidential spokesman assured that the administration is fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as this can be costly.