The Christian Association of Nigeria has called on all churches in the country to pray for the freedom of Leah Sharibu from the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists on this year’s Good Friday, March 30.
The organisation also reminded the Federal Government and the security agencies of the need to free Leah and other captives from the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists.
The President of CAN, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, in a statement by his Special Assistant, (Media & Communications), Deacon Adebayo Oladeji, obtained by The PUNCH on Wednesday in Jos, said the call for prayer for the release of Leah was in line with the Passion Week when Jesus Christ, with passion, willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of the world.
CAN also called on all Christians to use the Passion Week to pray for the country “to be free from all forces of darkness and for those who have lost their relations or property during the recent terror and herdsmen attacks.”
He said, “Following the trials, Jesus Christ, though sinless, was scourged by the Roman soldiers, and then forced to carry His own instrument of execution (the Cross) through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Way of Sorrow.
“Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected. It is referred to as the Passion Week because in that time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on our behalf.
“What should our attitude be during the Passion Week? We should be passionate in our worship of Jesus and in our proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for us, so should we be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection.
“It is in the light of this, that the leadership of CAN is calling on every Christian nationwide to stand in the gap for that innocent girl, Leah Sharibu, at 12 noon on Good Friday, asking God to send His angels to deliver her from captivity as He did for Apostle Peter who was jailed unjustly.”
Ayokunle said, “It is high time security operatives lived up to the expectations of the people.
“They should stop all the terrorist abductions and the Fulani herdsmen killings or resign from their offices to give room for those who could guarantee our security and safety.”
Sharibu was among the 105 female students of Government Science Technical School, Dapchi, Yobe State who were kidnapped on February 19.
CAN also called on the Federal Government to put every measure in place to facilitate Leah’s release.
The organisation also demanded that Nigerians should apologise to its former President and Founder of World of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, over wrong accusation.
Also, the Secretary of CAN (North West Zone), Sunday Oibe, in an interview with The PUNCH, on Tuesday, backed the demand by a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, that Nigerian should defend themselves against terrorists and insurgents because the military had been compromised.
He said, “The testimony from the parents of this lady (Leah Sharibu) and her colleagues was that her captors told her to renounce Jesus Christ and she refused. That was why they held her back; now, if that is the case, the question that we need to ask the government is why is it that it is only her that was held back.
“The duty and responsibility of any responsible government is to protect the lives of the citizenry. That is why we are asking the government that whatever they have spent to bring back the other girls, even if it means spending times 10 of that amount to bring her back, they should do that because failure to do that will give us the opportunity to read different interpretations and dimensions to it.
“If out of 105 girls and one of them is being held back because she is a Christian, then, we have every reason to be worried and the government too must be worried. The international community is also worried because there is no reason why this one and only girl should be held back.
“We salute the courage of the girl, congratulate her parents and the Church for giving her the correct teachings about our Lord, Jesus Christ. CAN advises that she should hold on to her belief. But the people who have held her captive should remember that Jesus Christ has never been a weak man.”
According to Oibe, who is also the Public Relations Officer of the Northern Elders Christian Elders Forum, Nigerians should apologise to Oritsejafor, “the spiritual lens of God,” who has been vindicated by T.Y. Danjuma.
CAN said, “Right there at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, when Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor told Nigerians to defend themselves, with the agreement of church leaders in Nigeria, he was using the lenses of God. Being a spiritual man that he is, Oritsejafor saw the danger facing Nigeria if terrorism and insurgency were not nipped in the bud. And that is why Nigeria is where it is for now.”
… I can’t sleep but I’m still proud of my daughter, says Leah’s mum
Parents of the released Dapchi schoolgirls have called on the Federal Government to step up action and ensure the timely release of Leah Sharibu, the only girl still being held by Boko Haram days after the insurgents returned the abducted girls.
Also, Leah’s mother, Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu, in a telephone interview with our correspondent said she had lost sleep since her daughter was abducted, adding that she almost developed a heart attack the day 107 girls were released, but Leah was not among them. “It’s not been easy but the grace of God is there for us. I cannot sleep since February 19 that they were abducted but I nearly had a heart attack the day the other girls were released and I discovered that my daughter was not released because she refused to renounce her faith. But that gives me some comfort,” she said.
On how she felt when she was told that Leah’s refusal to convert to Islam was the reason she is still being held by the insurgents, Rebecca said she was proud of Leah’s faith.
She said, “We gave Leah a sound Christian teaching which cannot just be swept away. She grew up in ECWA and she assimilated the teachings of the Church. So, I have no problem with her refusal to convert. I am proud of her.”
While praying to God for the release of her daughter, Rebecca appealed to the security agents and President Muhammadu Buhari to help in the release of her daughter.
“Buhari should come to my aid and not abandon Leah. He should do everything possible to ensure her safe and timely release,” Rebecca added.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Dapchi Girls’ Parents Association, Mallam Bukar Kachalla, told our correspondent on the telephone that the parents had sent a strong message to President Buhari demanding Leah’s release.
According to him, the parents are not demanding monetary compensation for the abduction and release of their daughters, but want the Federal Government to deploy the intelligence and negotiation it employed in the release of the other 107 girls and a boy for Leah’s release.
“If the Federal Government can facilitate the release of 107 of our girls, it will take them less energy to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.
“We condemn the religious colouration being painted in the issue of Leah. We are all united as parents and our association is still intact and our message is ‘bring back Leah to us.’
“This is not an issue of religion. We are all concerned that Leah is still being held by Boko Haram. We are not concerned about religion here. Our primary goal is the safe and timely release of Leah Sharibu,” he said.