Rebecca Sharibu, mother of Leah Sharibu, a Christian girl from Dapchi in Yobe State who has been enslaved by Boko Haram since she was kidnapped in 2018, speaks alongside Dr. Gloria Samdi Puldu, president of the LEAH Foundation. Leah remains in captivity today because she has refused to renounce her faith in Christ.
Extremist Muslims have insisted on the implementation of Shari‘ah and have defied the Nigerian legal system to prove their point. This has given grounds for forced conversions and abductions; more recently, the situation has progressed to kidnapping for ransom on a large scale where people are taken captive and treated as slaves.
Nigeria’s population is evenly distributed between a Muslim-majority North, Christian-majority South, and a mixture of ethnic Christians, Muslims, and practitioners of tribal faiths in the Middle Belt areas.
Nigeria’s constitution protects its diverse people and emphasizes equality regardless of religion. Yet, Christians, as well as the minority which practices traditional faiths, neither enjoy equal rights nor means by which grievances can be effectively redressed. The current government, dominated by the Muslims (many of which are ethnically Fulani), has been unable to protect these tens of millions of non-Muslim Nigerians, many of whom are Christian. They have even instituted (unconstitutional) laws which subjugate and limit the rights of Christians and other non-Muslim ethnic groups.
Since the rise of the terrorist organization Boko Haram, children — mainly Christian, but also Muslim — are kidnapped and forced into slavery. The girls are distributed among the terrorists to be “married” as concubines, and the boys are beaten and brainwashed into becoming child soldiers.
We are calling on every concerned citizen to rally for Nigeria. If we speak up and raise our voices we can “End Slavery Now!” We fervently hope that the good will of the international community (i.e., the U.S., U.K., and E.U.), and all Nigerians (both at home and in the diaspora), can help bring a peaceful end to the crisis in Nigeria, and to the existence of what the author Wole Soyinka called the “open sore of the continent” on African soil today.