Dear Miss Leah Sharibu,
Ordinarily I should be sending you a happy sixteenth birthday wish but that should not be the case here for obvious reasons. Ordinarily, again, I should be dropping these few lines with great delight given what yesterday represented in your young life but fate has decided otherwise.
Therefore, I am writing you this open letter with heavy heart given what you are passing through whereever you are right now which cannot be attributed to you as a misdemeanour or juvenile delinquency.
As you marked your sixteen years as a compatriot in solitary captivity we remember how you got there and why you are still there against your wish. And our collective wishes as parents and Nigerians at home and abroad.
On February 19, 2018, it would be vividly recalled, some Boko Haram terrorists had stormed the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state and carted away 110 school girls — including you, of course! Few days later following global opprobrium over the kidnapping (on 21 March 2018) after negotiating with the terrorists, the Nigerian federal government announced the release of all (except you) of the abducted school girls.
The Nigerian government negotiated and paid ransom reportedly running into millions of Dollars for the release of your colleagues excluding you as a devoted Christian.
You were held back and not negotiated for on account of your faith. According to reports online you were refused freedom because of your refusal to convert to Islam as others would have easily done.
What a girl and what an audacity of faith! For 450 odd days now you are still languishing in the camp of terrorists with no one knowing for sure your physical, mental or psychological state. But you have made a name for yourself around the world with your courageous decision to remain a Christian even in the face of death lurking menacingly around. Nigeria remains a secular state and that is constitutionally guaranteed, Boko Haram or no Boko Haram, terrorism or no terrorism!
For refusing, at your young age, to renounce your Christian faith you are indeed a study in pride for every believer and a source of inspiration to us all. We laud your dogged refusal to deny Jesus Christ even as Apostle Peter did three times before the cock started crowing in fulfilment of the prophesy. But that was then; our generation have learnt our lessons in redemption.
As I write this missive some demented Islamic terrorists are still attacking our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith. In Burkina Faso recently close to a dozen Christians (including two priests!) had been gruesomely murdered inside churches in the northern part of the Sankara country. In Nigeria (especially in the middle belt and north-eastern regions) the faithfuls are being daily or weekly assassinated and their churches burnt down with our security forces looking helpless.
When you add that to the Fulani herdsmen terrorism, armed robberies and kidnappings across the length and breadth of the federation you would know that our country has been thrown to the dogs. No one (except President Buhari and his ruling APC party henchmen) is safe any longer anywhere!
Sister Leah, your determination, even faced with satanic pressure, to remain a Christian is as remarkable as heroic. Renouncing your faith through intimidation of terrorism would have diminished our great religion. Though we believe in one universal God the same Immortal One would have been disappointed if you had hearkened to the terrorist diktat by converting to Islam. The Creator above Himself frowns at forceful conversion, so He must be satisfied with your dogged refusal to join the barbaric forces in their ‘Allah Akbar’ balderdash! Allah cannot be great in your situation. Hell no!
My dear Leah, even if you die in the jihadist gulag you would go down in global history as that little girl who looked death in the eyes and refused to blink first. In such unwarranted event you would die a heroine, a martyr! Please stay strong and hold on to your faith. We remember you and pray and fast for you hoping that reason would prevail in the end.
Those we elected to secure our lives and properties are busy junketting around the world taking good care of their health while abandoning us all to the perfidious whims and caprices of satanic agents. But be rest assured that a revolution is imminent, one capable of altering the course of our terrible national history.
Miss Leah, we feel your pain and carry your cross! We are convinced that the Supreme Being is well aware of your case and the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, had publicly intervened by calling on the animals holding you captive to let you go. Our Christian faith teaches us to love our neighbours as ourselves and live and let live. As Christians we do not engage in conversion by the force of arms but by superior religious argument backed by scriptural evidence of truth.
Your captors may be raping you, torturing you or subjecting you to all manner of abuses in order to break your will but we urge you to hold on to your faith! Remain steadfast and never bow to the uncircumsised criminal elements. Having endured for more than a year you can still endure more. Please, keep the hope alive!
I cannot end this letter without informing you that my young daughter, Stella Akuehute, 8, is in the know of your terrible situation. I had told her about you before hitting the keyboard and she asked me to tell you that you are her heroine! Stella is as fearless, beautiful, intelligent and assertive as you. She was born outside our shores in a peaceful environment and she is in primary school and doing fine.
Happy birthday in ‘hell’, dear Miss Leah Sharibu! We hope and pray fervently to the Almighty that by the time you turn seventeen next year you would have the ‘privilege’ of celebrating at home, free, with your parents, friends and well-wishers. Then, Stella might return home during the long vacation to be among your well-wishers.
Happy birthday Leah Sharibu! We stand in solidarity with you and wish you God’s protection.