Fri | Feb 22, 2019

Lone Nigerian captive refused to convert for Boko Haram

Published:Friday | March 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Major General Rogers Nicholas, Theatre Commander, operation Lafiya dole, carries one of the freed school girls from the Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi, during a handover to government officials in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on Wednesday.

LAGOS (AP):

The mother of the only Nigerian schoolgirl still in Boko Haram captivity after the extremists released 104 classmates said yesterday that her daughter was blocked from boarding the vehicle to freedom and told to convert to Islam.

Fifteen-year-old Leah refused, Rebecca Sharibu told The Associated Press.

"She was about to board the vehicle that was to bring them back. Then Boko Haram said she should convert," the mother said.

"Her friends said they tried to convince her, but she said she will not convert to Islam. Boko Haram said since she will not convert to Islam, she should remain behind. That was how they left her. She is alone."

Leah Sharibu, who is Christian, asked her departing Muslim classmates to pray for her.

President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed that Sharibu was the only schoolgirl still held by Boko Haram after the extraordinary release of the girls on Wednesday and vowed that she "will not be abandoned."

Buhari, himself a Muslim, said, "true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion." He added that he looked forward to meeting with the girls who were freed.

The president's statement had no word on the five girls still unaccounted for.

Also yesterday, the father of one of the five girls said that he has been told that his daughter and the others are dead.

Inuwa Garba told the AP that friends of his daughter who were freed told him that the 16-year-old died from injuries in the frightened stampede that occurred during the mass abduction in Dapchi a month ago.

"They told me five of the girls died, and my daughter, who was among them, was the first to die the day the girls were seized," Garba said. The survivors told him the bodies were buried in the bush.

"I believe what the girls told me because they were all together and saw what happened," he said.

The freed girls have been taken to the capital, Abuja, where they are expected to meet Buhari today.