Nigerians hold birthday rally for girl held by Boko Haram

Abuja (AFP) –


Nigerian activists Tuesday staged a rally to mark the 16th birthday of a girl who was abducted by Boko Haram 449 days ago.

Leah 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, Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, told AFP.

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

A music video titled "I will not deny Jesus" was released as a tribute to Sharibu, he added.

The cleric hopes that President Muhammadu Buhari can win the girl's freedom as he prepares to begin his second term on May 29.