Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday assured that it had not abandoned efforts to rescue Miss Leah Sharibu, the Christian school girl still left in the captivity of Boko Haram.
It said those involved in negotiating her release were doing so on a daily basis.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents who raised concerns over her fate that tortuous negotiations were still going on daily to secure her safe release.
The terrorists had since February 19, 2018 kept Leah Sharibu when she was abducted along 110 schoolmates in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Sharibu, whose 15th birthday was marked by her family on Monday, was not released along with her mates one month after the kidnapping because she reportedly rejected the demand of her abductors to denounce her faith and become a Muslim.
The Boko Haram insurgents who made a big show of returning the abducted girls to Dapchi in a convoy of vehicles, and even addressed crowds in the town, without a confrontation from security forces, have kept mute about Leah.
Government said the insurgents were not attacked because it reached agreement with them not to harm the girls but return them safely in exchange for a ceasefire from the armed forces.
Sharibu’s continued captivity has been eliciting concern from Nigerians who demand more positive action from government to ensure her release, along with also abducted Chibok schoolgirls, even as the issue came up prominently during talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump, in Washington earlier this month.
Nathaniel Sharibu, her father has on her birthday, appealed to the media not to relent but put pressure on the Federal Government to ensure the release of his daughter.
Sharibu was making the appeal on Political Platform, a programme on RayPower 100.5 FM, via telephone interview to mark his daughter’s birthday.
When asked why nothing has been heard from the government’s side on Leah, Mohammed said, “I think Mr. President actually addressed that issue in Washington and my position is always the same that we are yet to resolve the issue of six girls. 111 girls were kidnapped, 105 were returned and we are busy on daily basis asking and negotiating and asking what happened to those five officially at least and then what is delaying the young girl Leah Sharibu.
“Negotiations with insurgents are quite tortuous and complicated atimes but I can assure you we are not leaving her to her fate and those who should are daily busy working on her release.”
Asked what was torturous about the negotiations since the terrorists released the girls in broad daylight, the minister said, “Anybody who negotiates with insurgents and terrorists in the world will know that is not a direct face to face negotiation like we are doing. Thank you.”