Relatives of schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, who was abducted by Boko Haram militia, hold a banner to press for her release during an event to mark her 16th birthday in Abuja, May 14 2019. Picture: KOLA SULAIMON / AFP
Relatives of schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, who was abducted by Boko Haram militia, hold a banner to press for her release during an event to mark her 16th birthday in Abuja, May 14 2019. Picture: KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

Abuja — Nigerian activists on Tuesday staged a rally to mark the 16th birthday of Leah Sharibu who was abducted by Boko Haram 449 days ago.

Sharibu is the only girl still in captivity following the abduction of more than 100 female students on February 19  2018, from a secondary school in the northeast state of Yobe. Almost all were released after about a month after negotiations with the Nigerian government, but Sharibu was not, allegedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Charity groups, most of which are affiliated with churches, organised the rally to mark her 16th birthday and press the government to work harder for her release.

Dozens of activists staged their march at the Unity Fountains in Abuja’s Central District. Their aim was to “remember Leah in prayer and also to engage in a peaceful march to ask for her release”, the rally coordinator, Gideon Para-Mallam, said.

On her second birthday in captivity, “Leah is presently voiceless but her courageous action of faith speaks for her,” Para-Mallam said.

Para-Mallam hopes that President Muhammadu Buhari can win the girl’s freedom as he prepares to begin his second term on May 29.

AFP