By Kizito Duru.

Fortnight ago, when the Dapchi girls were returned by the Boko Haram terrorist, a new story developed. Outside the five allegedly dead girls, the news of a certain girl by name Leah Sharibu, who was detained by the faceless terrorists for refusing to denounce her religion(Christianity), greeted our ears. She was not only asked to renounce Christianity but to also be converted to Islam.

To some, she was childish and unwise with her decisions. Many are of the view that she would have denounced her religion, accept Islam and secure her freedom first. To them, a living dog is far better than a dead lion, hence the display of deep religious indoctrination condemnable.

In a country where Christians are been oppressed, killed, maimed and brutalised by their Muslim counterparts, Leah Sharibu does not in any way deserve the criticism, rejection and lack of support she is getting from the same people who should be celebrating her courage, love and faith even in the face of death. If a little girl like her could forfeit her freedom to stick with her belief, then Christians, all over the country should stand in her defence.

This is a typical example of the courage Nigerians, especially the youths, need to confront the leaders of our country and demand for accountability. Leah Sharibu has shown that it is better to die for something than to live for nothing. If Nigerians could borrow this courageous leaf from Sharibu, the immunity that covers the impunity and atrocities of our leaders will be challenged. But the question is, how many of us want to face the trigger and tear gas happy security men attached to our politicians? How many of us can look straight at the ADC of any politician in the country and boldly say ‘shoot me?’ Little Sharibu has provided a challenge to so many disenchanted and disillusioned youths of the country.

It took such rare courage, boldness and fearlessness from Nelson Mandela to reject freedom and stuck to the four dirty walls of South African prison. He was determined to end the otiose apartheid practice, even if it meant giving his life. It wasn’t foolishness nor indoctrination. He was, Like Sharibu, determined to stand for his conviction and belief. No doubt, apartheid practice would not have been eradicated if Mandela had chosen his life over the freedom of millions of black South Africans.

At the risk of his life, Martin Lurther king, chose to challenge the racial discrimination that was going on in the United States of America, he was neither childish nor foolish. He was simply a man who saw tomorrow today. Unfortunately, he was shot dead by one of those who hated his firm but peaceful message. But even in his death, his message didn’t die and today he is celebrated and recognized than so may of us living. If Lurther had played the coward game, President Barack Obama would not had been a president of the United States of America.

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe of blessed memory could have collected millions of dollars from the British lords to sabotage the collective fight for freedom. He stood firm and fought gallantly till the end. That is why we proudly lay claim of being an independent nation. The same courage and boldness was what MKO Abiola displayed when he rejected freedom by refusing to renounce his June 12, 1993 electoral mandate, he was not foolish or indoctrinated. He simply chose to stand for what he believed in. That he eventually died in detention was part of the sacrifice.

With the detention of miss Sharibu, it is evidently clear that aside from frowning at Western Education, the Boko Haram terrorists are also concerned with attacking Christians and anything that has connection with Christianity. My friends who are Muslims would always want to convince me that the Quran condemns violence, that leaves me wondering if the Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani Herdsmen use another version of Quran. It is not only callous to detain an innocent girl, but equally an attack on Christianity by the Islamic terrorist organization.

Unfortunately, the Christian community, which should stand in solid defence of the poor girl’s bravery, courage and faith seem to be occupied with other issues or possibly paying the coward game. Since the news of the detention of Sharibu broke out, I have been waiting to see some clergies across all Christian denominations appear or speak on television and radio houses across the country. Not even the vice president of the country, who is a senior pastor in Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria, has come out to categorically celebrate the bravery of the girl while demanding her unconditional release by her oppressors. I had expected a Black Mass from the Catholic Community last Sunday, in support of the brave Sharibu, but I was disappointed, and more disappointed that such of solidarity and fellowship for the young girl may not take place anytime soon.

Imagine if Sharibu was a Muslim, held hostage by a terrorist group for refusing to denounce Islam, the whole would would be awake until she is released. However, in a father-like manner, Leah’s father, Mr Nathan Sharibu, has come out to publicly back his daughter’s resolve and belief. He categorically said in an interview that he was proud that his daughter stood for Christ even in the face of death. No matter how many people that have refused to stand with Leah, the poor girl will surely be consoled that her father stood for her.

This is a clarion call to the Federal Government, the Christian Association Of Nigeria and indeed men of goodwill to intensify efforts in making sure that Sharibu, whose continuous stay in the custody of the dreaded Islamic sect may lead to being sexually abused, is released as soon as possible. Christians all over the country should aside prayers, protest against the detention of the girl. An injury to one is injury to all.


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