A British member of parliament has launched a protest outside the Nigerian embassy in London to help free kidnapped schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who friends say is being held by Boko Haram for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake is staging a sit-in outside the Nigerian High Commission in central London to put pressure on the Federal Government, he says.
Sharibu, 15, was kidnapped alongside more than 100 schoolgirls in February this year. Boko Haram freed the other schoolgirls after government negotiations, but Sharibu was kept behind.
Brake made the call as he participated in the 200-hour #Freeleah campaign held outside the Nigerian High Commission in London. Brake wrote on his Twitter handle @Thomasbrake: “Outside the Nigerian High Commission launching the #freeleah campaign. Leah, who is still held captive by Boko Haram, because she refused to recant her Christian faith, has been held for 198 days.”
Brake is taking part in the protest organized by advocacy group, Church World Service (CWS), that will last 200 hours as yesterday marked 200 days since Sharibu, who turned 15 in captivity, was taken.
Organizers said members of the advocacy group would take turns to seat at a school desk placed in front of the commission’s office with Sharibu’s portrait.
CSW on its Twitter handle, @CSW_UK shared a photo of Sharibu and wrote; “Today marks 200 days since Nigerian schoolgirl #LeahSharibu was abducted by Boko Haram. We are standing outside the Nigerian Embassy for 200 hours to pressure the Nigerian government to negotiate Leah’s release, as they did for the rest of her classmates. #FreeLeah #DapchiGirls.”
“There cannot be a clearer example of someone whose human rights are being ignored than that of Leah who is being detained just because she has maintained her Christian faith,” Brake said in an interview with CNN.
Former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Pastor Reno Omokri and another British, Graham Weeks, who worked as a missionary in the northern Nigeria 36 years ago, among many others have also joined in the 200-hour vigil campaign in front of the Nigeria High Commission in London to demand the release of Leah Sharibu.
At the protest, Omokri who led some of the protesters said it is not a crime to remain a Christian. He said the continued abduction of Sharibu is anti-Islam and that Sharibu, whom he said is a very bright student, should be in school and not with the terrorists. He therefore called on the Boko Haram sect to release her immediately. The protesters also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to negotiate the release of Leah Sharibu.
Most of the students abducted from their boarding school in Dapchi village, Yobe State, were released after four weeks. Leah’s parents told CNN that the returning schoolgirls told them their daughter had refused to convert to Islam while they were kidnapped.
“The girls that returned said Leah said she will not deny Christ or turn to be a Muslim,” Leah’s father, Nathan told CNN. Leah’s father said he has been humbled by the international campaign for his daughter’s release
According to him, many Christian organizations have contacted the family saying they are holding prayers for the student’s safe return. “I am very happy the way Christians around the world have been standing by Leah. This man has not met my daughter or her family before, and he is calling for her release. We are so grateful,” he said.
An audio of the teenager pleading for her freedom was recently released.