A new audio recording released by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram reveals that kidnapped 15-year-old Leah Sharibu is alive.
The 35-second recording was published by Nigeria’s online newspaper The Cable on Monday. In it, Leah makes a passionate plea to the Nigerian government for her freedom in her native Hausa language:
“I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted from Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi. I am calling on government and people of goodwill to get me out of this problem.
“I also plead with the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives. Kindly help me out of my predicament. I am begging you to treat me with compassion, I am calling on the government, particularly the president, to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you.”
In the recording, Leah pauses several times, suggesting she was reading from a written text.
The Nigerian government is working to verify the authenticity of the recording, But Leah’s father, Nathan Sharibu, said the voice on the recording is his daughter’s.
Leah was kidnapped on the evening of February 13, along with more than 100 other girls, when Boko Haram militants stormed a girls’ secondary school in the Nigerian town of Dapchi. A month later, she was the only girl who wasn’t freed with the others because she refused to turn from her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
When all of the girls were loaded on trucks to go home, Leah was not allowed to go. Leah’s mother, Rebekah Sharibu, shared with an Open Doors team member what one of the released girls had told her:
“Leah was told to say some Islamic incantations before she would be allowed onto the truck. But she refused. She said, ‘I will never say it because I am not a Muslim.’ They became angry and told her if she wouldn’t denounce Christ, she would remain with them. Still, Leah refused. We watched Leah being left alone with the other members. We kept crying and waving at her ’til the truck vanished.”
Nathan Sharibu said the whole family was pleading for the government to do more, as were Christians and some Muslims that are “praying for my daughter,” he said. He is hopeful that the recording will redouble efforts to free her.
Praying with Leah Sharibu and Her Family
Father, we thank you for this good news that Leah is alive and this hopeful encouragement for her parents. We pray that You would continue to surround Leah with your comfort and protection, always strengthening her faith. And we ask that through Leah, her persecutors would see You and turn to Christ. Be close to her broken-hearted family, as they grieve and live their lives without their beautiful daughter. Ultimately, we pray for the release and safe return of Leah Sharibu. In Your Son’s name, we pray and ask for these things. Amen!