Seven months after her abduction, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria has reiterated calls for the release of Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu.
Ms Sharibu was kidnapped along with other school mates in February and left behind after the federal government negotiated the release of the abducted children a month later.
Following the negotiation, all the abducted girls were released, except Ms Sharibu and five others who died as a result of the abduction.
According to the released school girls, Ms Sharibu was left behind because she refused to denounce her Christian faith.
There has been various calls for the release of Ms Sharibu. The federal government has also stated its commitment to ensuring that Ms Sharbu returns home safe to her family.
In a communique issued at the end of its second plenary conference for the year, the CBCN called for the unconditional release of Ms Sharibu and warned “against arbitrary use of power by government”.
“We demand that the federal government secure the unconditional release of Leah Sharibu. She is still being held captive because she refused to denounce her Christian faith. We further demand that the Federal Government ensure the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls and all other persons in captivity against their will,” the statement said.
The CBCN also warned against attempts by government agencies to disregard the rule of law.
“We note that the rule of law connotes equality of all under the law, seeks the protection of fundamental rights of citizens, and guards against abuse of power. Accordingly, individuals, groups and Governments shall submit to, obey and be regulated by the laws of the land, and not by any arbitrary action.
“We recognise the role of governments at all levels in providing policies for national development, in the areas of economy, politics, provision of social amenities, security, etc. Nevertheless, we hold that all forms of pursuit of national interest should be guided by the rule of law and respect for human dignity and development.”
The CBCN expressed dissatisfaction with government’s efforts towards combatting crisis across the country and called on all Nigerians especially the youth to focus on activities that will unite, rather than divide the country.
Regarding the 2019 election, the conference urged Nigerians to avoid vote buying and other attempts by politicians to influence voters.
“As we look forward to the elections of 2019, we refuse to give up on our hope for a great, prosperous and peaceful nation. We encourage all registered voters to ensure that they are equipped with their voter’s card, reject and denounce the illegal practices of selling and buying of votes. Despite the deception and defections, Nigerian voters must be wise enough to show some of our politicians, who may have so much to hide, that they can run, but they cannot hide.
“It is the right of Nigerians to fully participate in the electoral process without intimidation and violence. The responsibility for this lies on all of us. We demand that the choice of the electorate, once made, be respected by all.
“Although elections are not enough to enthrone good governance, they are an important stage in that project. And unless we get our electoral process right, elections in Nigeria will only become expensive cosmetic exercises that legitimize corruption and ineptitude.”