The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) has described the news of the return of the abducted Dapchi girls as commendable but is wondering if the Federal Government wilfully sacrificed the only Christian girl among those abducted for her faith.
The lawyers’ nagging question in a statement through its President, Mr. Arome Okwori, is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari states that he is as committed to the freedom of the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity as he was to the girls’ freedom when all 110 were in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists.
Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media & Publicity says the Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls after she was held back by the terrorists over her decision, as reported, not to convert from Christianity to Islam.
He stated further: “President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility.
“The President is equally mindful of the fact that true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.
“To this effect, no one or group can impose its religion on another.
“His heart goes out to the isolated parents who must watch others rejoice while their own daughter is still away.
“The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned.
“President Buhari assures the Sharibu family that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that they also have cause to rejoice with their daughter soon.”
The Christian lawyers’ statement Thursday reads in part: “It is however painful to hear that five of the abducted girls had died before the release and we commiserate with the parents and family of the deceased abducted girls.
“It is further very much disheartening to hear that one of the abducted girls, Leah Sharibu, is still being held captive by the extremists on account of her refusal to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.
“We find it reprehensible and view it as an act of callousness on the part of the Federal Government in allowing Leah to continue to be held in captivity in the course of their negotiation on account of her religious faith.
“Can it be said that the Government willfully sacrificed this courageous Christian girl for the release of others and failed to defend and protect her constitutional right to freedom of religion in order to earn public applause or score political points? Or is it a message to the world under the leadership of President Muhammed Buhari that Nigeria is no longer a secular state, thus confirming rife accusations that Mr. President is pursuing an Islamic Agenda?
“We note that more than 90% of the abducted Chibok girls are Christians, and wonder if perhaps the failure of the Federal Government to ensure the release of the remaining Chibok girls still held captive by the Islamic Extremist group is for the same reason as in the instant case of Leah Sharibu.
“It is time for the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility and uphold the tenets and principles of the Nigerian Constitution. Every citizen has a right to be protected irrespective of his/her gender, culture and religious belief.
“We the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) hereby call on Mr. President to rise to his constitutional duties and ensure the immediate release of Leah Sharibu and the other remaining Chibok girls.”