Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed Sunday said the rumoured death of the abducted Dapchi girl Leah Sharibu is “absolute fake news” and accused the opposition of wanting to score a political point with the rumours.
“I think it’s part of the opposition’s strategies to throw everything at the administration and at the President,” Mohammed said in a statement.
“I think every day they are realising the hopelessness of their position.”
Leah was among the 111 girls of Government Girls Science and Technology College that were kidnapped from their hostels in Dapchi, Yobe State on February 18, 2018.
105 girls were released by their Boko Haram abductors about a month later after what the Nigerian government said was a “back-channel” negotiation. But a UN report said the government paid a huge ransom before they were freed.
While five of the girls died while being conveyed to Dapchi by their kidnappers, Leah was denied freedom because she refused to convert to Islam.
Her father told Abuja-based Blueprint earlier on Sunday that her daughter was still alive and asked the Nigeria government to do all it can to free his daughter almost a year since she was abducted.
“I have been receiving calls from people condoling me that my daughter is dead, but I want to tell the world that I am not aware of this,” Nathaniel Sharibu said.
“None of my family is associated to this rumour.”
The failure of the government to secure her release has become a talking point in a country where religious and ethnic bias usually colour public discourse. Moreso because the Presidency and the military at different have claimed that the insurgents in the Northeast have degraded or “technically defeated”.