By Reno Omokri
Last year, I wrote a book, Leah Sharibu: The Girl Boko Haram Left Behind. I raised a significant amount of money from that book, all of which I gave to Leah’s mother, Rubeccah (not Rebeccah) Sharibu. I did it because I have a daughter that is the same age as Leah and I almost had a heart attack when my daughter was younger and, unbeknownst to me, she played a game of hide and seek with me and I could not find her for five minutes.
I thought I had lost my daughter. I began panicking. I ran to strangers. I was beside myself. And then my daughter revealed her four- year- old self and I was so relieved. I was so overjoyed that I did not bother to even scold her for playing such a prank on me.
Leah Sharibu is not playing a prank on her parents, Nathan and Rubeccah. She was taken against her will by Boko Haram, along with a hundred and ten other girls. Whereas all the other girls were freed, Leah was refused her freedom because she would not convert to Islam.
That feeling that I had for five minutes is a feeling that Nathan and Rubeccah have had to endure for one year. I cannot even imagine what they must have been going through.
I have never met Leah, but in writing my book, I had cause to carry out investigations all the way to her parents’ home in Dapchi. There is a void in her mother’s life.
Rubeccah, Leah’s mum, is passionate about education, and her passion overflowed to her daughter, who is incidentally the best student at her school, Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi.
In her Junior Secondary School Certificate Examinations, Leah had 9 As. She often taught other students at her school and is very studious. This is not just a girl with a past. Leah is a girl with an even brighter future.
Her mother has been teaching for twenty-two years and it just makes you wonder if the Sharibu family were targeted by Boko Haram especially when you consider that Leah’s father, Nathan, is a policeman, attached to the Special Protection Unit. Sadly, Nathan was serving Nigeria by protecting Very Important Persons in Adamawa at the time Boko Haram abducted his daughter.
What have we as Nigerians done for the Sharibu family? The Buhari administration has made promise upon promises, none of which they have kept. They have shown a willingness to use their so called ‘back channels’ to Boko Haram to broker the release of other hostages, but not Leah. Why?
Let me serve Nigeria notice that I will never forget Leah. I will keep making trouble until she is released. On Tuesday the 19th of February 2019, I was at the Nigerian High Commission in London, leading protestors along with my friend Mervyn Thomas. We handed in a letter of protest to President Buhari, which was received by the head of Chancery at the Commission.
The British media was there, and I was interviewed. Liberty Radio in particular, wanted to know why I kept Leah’s flame alive and the truth is that I do it because she inspires me. Apostle Peter was an adult male and yet he denied my Lord and Saviour, Jesus, three times within the space of one evening.
Leah was a fourteen-year-old girl when she was abducted, yet she refused to deny Jesus Christ ( and still refuses to do so according to the testimony of Aisha Wakil, popularly known as Mama Boko Haram, who has insight into Boko Haram’s operations and who testified that Leah still refuses to renounce Jesus).
That type of fidelity is commendable. Leah is my hero. Could I have such strength under similar circumstances? I doubt it. I have to salute such courage. I know of nobody that I have met who is as brave as Leah.
Leah’s story is so inspiring that one of the parents, whose daughter was also abducted, has chosen to convert from Islam to Christianity, because of the faith Leah has shown. I cannot reveal his name, because that would threaten his life. But I know his identity and he said ( his exact words) “The God of Leah is the true God”.
What can you do to help Leah? I want you to pray for her. Do not pray any old mechanical prayer. No. Pray a prayer of faith. Prayers work. I am living proof.
When I spoke to Ahmad Salkida, the journalist with the most reliable link to Boko Haram, he was doubtful as to whether Leah was even alive. After my conversation with Mr. Salkida, I felt so downcast. I was depressed.
And then I did what I always do when I am downcast. I prayed. I went on my knees and prayed to God not to allow Ahmad’s suspicions be the reality. And God hears my prayer, because about 6 weeks after my prayer, Boko Haram released a proof of life video.
The word of God works when you work it. In Mark 9: 23 Jesus said “all things are possible to him that believes.”
That is such a pure and truthful statement that you cannot rebut whether or not you are a Christian.
When I asked Rubeccah what her greatest desire on earth is, she responded thus:
“To sleep and wake up to see that Leah is back home”.
As long as I, Reno Omokri, am alive, fulfilling Rubeccah’s desire, would be one of the major purposes of my life.
I believe with all my heart that Leah Sharibu will be rescued and Rubeccah will go to sleep one day and wake up the next and see Leah with her eyes. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
May God bless Leah and may God bless her family.
▪ Omokri is the bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years.
This article was culled from Thisday of 24th February 2019.
Leah Sharibu: A Year in Captivity
By Reno Omokri