Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has assured that the Muhammadu Buhari administration will not give up on the safe return of Leah Sharibu, the Christian student of Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, who was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in February 2018 but still in captivity for her faith. Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media, and Publicity, Garba Shehu, gave the assurance in a chat with a group of journalists on Saturday in Abuja. According to him: ‘‘Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.” Shehu who was responding to speculations on whether Leah had been harmed by her abductors, emphasised that much of what is written about the girl in the press is false news.
“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 the 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.
The Presidential media aide appealed for patience in dealing with the challenge the case poses, assuring that the administration is fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as this can be costly.