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World News

Vigil to be held for kidnapped Nigerian Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu on her 17th birthday

by Premier Journalist

A prayer vigil will be held on Thursday for Leah Sharibu, the Christian schoolgirl who has been held by Boko Haram militants for more than two years. 

The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), which is a coalition partner of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), is organising the even to mark Sharibu's 17th birthday. 

Leah was abducted by Islamic militants on the 19th February, 2018 along with 109 of her classmates from the Government Girls' Science and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe State. All the students were released a month later, except for Leah, who was the only Christian in the group. 

There have been numerous reports indicating that Sharibu is still alive but has not yet been released because she refuses to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and convert to Islam. In January, footage emerged of an Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) hostage confirming that Sharibu was alive and well. ISWAP is now a faction of Boko Haram.

The prayer vigil will be broadcast via Zoom at 9 pm BST. Participants will be called to pray for Sharibu and her family and for world leaders to rise up and demand that the Nigerian government would do more to see the teenager freed.

Today's online prayer event will feature contributions from Rev Yunusa Nmadu, Matt Redman, Pete Greig, and others. 

Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has also released a video to mark Leah's birthday in which individuals around the world share the impact that her story has had on them.

CSW's chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: "For the third time Leah will be marking her birthday as a captive. This brave girl is an example to all of us as she continues to stay true to her Christian faith and refuses to renounce her faith. We continue to call on the Nigerian government to do everything in its power to secure her swift release, and that of other captives held by both Boko Haram factions, including the remaining Chibok girls. We also urge the international community to raise her case with Nigeria at every opportunity and to offer assistance to counter the continuing  threat posed by armed non-state actors in the country."

Find out more about how you can get involved in the event by clicking here.

Listen to Premier's interview with Dr Khataza Gondwe, CSW's head of advocacy here: 
 

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