(News Investigators)/ The Nigerian Senate has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to explore the option of dialogue to quicken the release of Leah Sharibu, who is currently in Boko Haram captivity.
Miss Sharibu is one of the 115 pupils abducted from Science Secondary School Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018. While her colleagues were later released following government’s intervention, she was held back by the terrorists for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
The fresh call by the senate followed a Point of Order, by Shehu Sani (PRP-Kaduna) at plenary on Thursday.
Citing Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule, under personal explanation, Mr Sani said it was disheartening that fourteen months after captivity, Leah Sharibu was still in the captivity of Boko Haram.
He also drew attention to the fate of some Chibok School girls still in Boko Haram captivity, five years after their abduction.
He said though there was no doubt that the federal government had intervened in ensuring release of some of the captors, there was a concern that there seemed to be silence on release of the remaining girls.
“My problem is the silence of the political class. The silence of those that need to speak out.
“The stand that we should not negotiate with terrorists is true but we have a hostage at hand and the life of that hostage is more important than any grandstanding.
“For every day this girl remains in the custody of her abductors, the cloud of guilt will continue to hang over Nigeria.
“This girl has carried out her duty, if she is slain, her blood will speak on the conscience of this nation.
“That is why I said even if nobody has the courage to speak about her and the others, I will.
“I urge the federal government to do everything to secure Leah’s release.”
According to him, the captivity of the girls call for urgent action to ensure their release.
The lawmaker said, “There appears to be a lull in terms of interest to secure the release of these girls.
“What may be the most important strategy to be adopted in getting Leah and others out of captivity is the option of dialogue with the their abductors.
“It has worked in so many other places where similar abductions have taken place like Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc, terrorised by the Talibans.
“Though government cannot be said not to have taken actions in getting Leah and others released, but there is need for it to redouble and expedite actions in that direction.
“This is for parents and relatives of the abductees be freed from the psychological trauma they must have been facing and for the abductees to know that they have a country that cares for them.”
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said efforts must be made for the release of Leah and others.
Meanwhile, Mr Sani, in an interview with journalists shortly after plenary, said he raised the issue at plenary to “prick the conscience of Nigerians and to bring the attention of the government to this matter.
“Leah Sharibu symbolises resilience against a violent deadly element and sucha young soul must not be allowed to perish.
“I called for the government to reactivate the dialogue process towards securing the release of these girls.
“Dialogue involves making the right contact with mediators and negotiators who will make an offer to the insurgents, reach out to them and secure Leah Sharibu and the other girls’ release.”
Mr Sani, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, said he was confident that the girls would be released through negotiation and mediation.
He said, “Each day spent by these girls in the hands of their abductors is a moral stain on the country.
“We must not fail Leah Sharibu and all the persons who are currently in the hands of their captors.
“I believe Leah is alive for the fact that if she is dead, her abductors would have publicly announced it.
“I also believe that if this girl was the daughter of a high ranking personality in this country, more efforts would have been put into securing her release,” he said.
The lawmaker said, if necessary machineries were put in place, “Leah will be out in a matter of days.”
A splinter group of Boko Haram insurgents had on February 19, 2018, abducted 115 girls from the School but released 109 a month after, claiming that five of the girls died in captivity while Leah Sharibu was held back for refusing to renounce her faith.