Leah Sharibu has been the hostage of terrorists for five years now.
She was just 14 years old when she was taken – the sole Christian among a group of 110 schoolgirls abducted from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria, by members of the Islamic State West Africa Province in February 2018.
Those familiar with her case will recall that just one month later all of Leah’s surviving classmates – five died in transit – were loaded onto trucks and returned to their families following negotiations by the government. But Leah was not among them.
Continue reading “Five years is too long: the Nigerian government must deliver on its promises to secure the release of Leah Sharibu” →
The terrorists told her they would only release her if she renounced her faith and converted to Islam in exchange for her freedom. At just 14 years of age, Leah refused to give in to their pressure.
“We do not sleep with our eyes closed; we take a nap, then wake up and keep watch… we are just depending on the grace of God.”
These are the words of a villager from the Maro Ward of Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) in the southern part of Nigeria’s Kaduna state. In the absence of effective security or government assistance, this is what targeted communities across the state have been forced into: spending their days and nights on alert patrolling, living in fear of terrorists who destroy their crops, take their lives, and abduct hundreds, if not thousands, for ransom.
Continue reading ““We do not sleep with our eyes closed” – how long will the international community fail the people of southern Kaduna?“ →
Kaduna has been an epicentre of violence and banditry for several years now, with attacks on non-Muslim farming communities in the south increasing exponentially with the advent of the current administration amid a general deterioration in security.
Pakistani weddings are extravagant affairs. Guestlists are filled with hundreds of names of relatives and friends. People come from various cities and even abroad for colourful celebrations filled with music and dancing. Often, brides’ homes are so packed with relatives that there is hardly room to move.
About a month or so before the wedding, smaller events take place at the homes of both the bride and groom. Friends and family begin to choreograph wedding dances and wedding songs to the rhythm of the dholak, a two headed hand drum.
A few days prior to the wedding, the Mayun takes place. This marks the start of the husband and wife-to-be being separated from each other until the day of the wedding, with brides beautifying themselves by refraining from wearing anything on their faces and undergoing herbal skin treatments to improve their complexion.
None of this occurred in the case of Arzoo Raja. In fact, this young Christian’s so-called ‘marriage’ is essentially a crime, because Arzoo was abducted on 13 October 2020 from the street outside her home in Karachi Railway Colony, Sindh Province, and forced to convert and to ‘marry’ a man more than twice her age. Under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, the legal age for marriage is 18, and being a child of 13, she was in no position to consent or escape.
Continue reading “‘This should never have happened to her’ – the story of Arzoo Raja” →
On 8 August, the state governor of Nigeria’s Borno State confirmed that Ruth Ngladar Pogu, one of around 276 girls infamously abducted from their school in Chibok, was free.
Ms Ngladar is the 108th Chibok Girl to regain some form of freedom. Several are thought to have died whilst in captivity, with an estimated 111 reported to still be in the hands of the now amalgamated terrorist group.
Continue reading “Ruth Ngladar Pogu’s release is welcome, but the man with her is not her ‘husband’” →
Ms Ngladar had reportedly surrendered herself to the military alongside one of her captors and two children she had given birth to while in captivity at the end of July, and while her freedom after over seven years is good news, the challenges that lie ahead of her and her family remain extensive.
On 13 February 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight. He was on his way to see a friend when he was kidnapped from his car by 15 men in three black SUVs and four other vehicles in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Video footage of the incident, as well as eyewitness reports, appears to indicate that the men were professionally trained.
The abduction incident is infamously known as ‘7-15-40’; seven vehicles, 15 professional men and the whole process took just 40 seconds.
In 2018, I met his wife and son in Kuala Lumpur. The two of them have consistently called for answers regarding the pastor’s whereabouts, but today, over four years since his abduction, these answers remain elusive.
Continue reading “Four years, no answers: The disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh” →