The Presidency has explained why Leah Sharibu, the girl kidnapped in February 2018 along with her mates from Science Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe State, is still in Boko Haram captivity.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said the terrorists’ fear of the military is making her release a complicated and prolonged affair.
“The interlocutors have reported encouraging progress so far,” Shehu said in a commemorative statement marking five years of the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok, neighbouring Borno state.
“The report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants.
“They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.
“At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire north-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram’s fears.
“Leah Sharibu will be reunited with her family as soon as any conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation.
“The success of the Nigerian military in subduing Boko Haram is evidenced by the large numbers of militants who have surrendered recently, especially in neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.
“A similar mass surrender of militants is expected to happen soon in Nigeria.
“While Nigerian military operations are ongoing, the government is also engaging with the militants but the talks have been affected by the factionalisation of Boko Haram – with one group adopting a hard line attitude and intensifying attacks on Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and another group engaging with the government for peaceful resolution.
“President Buhari also uses this opportunity of the commemoration of the Chibok tragedy to commend the girls, now women, who have triumphed over it all.”
The terrorists refused to release Sharibu even after letting her mates go after some negotiations with the Federal Government. Reports say her continued detention was due to her failure to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.