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Protest to be held in support of stalwart Nigerian Christian girl

CSW urges Christians in the UK to rally around Nigerian citizens in time of need

Christian Solidarity Worldwide will lead a London-based protest in support of a Christian girl in Nigeria who has been held captive by jihadist militant organisation Boko Haram for one year after she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus.

Teenager Leah Sharibu was abducted along with 109 other female classmates by fighters from the Islamic State West African Province (also known as the al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram) in February last year. While the Nigerian government managed to successfully negotiate the release of the then 14 year old’s 104 surviving classmates the following month, Leah was denied her freedom because she refused to reject Jesus Christ as Lord of her life.

In two weeks, on Tuesday, 19 February, human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) will lead a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London, with the message: Still here. Still waiting for action.” The protest will run from 9am until 5pm, and at 11am CSW’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, along with several others, will deliver a formal letter to the High Commission calling on the incoming Nigerian government to negotiate the release of Leah and the many other girls and women who are being held against their will. 

Thomas said: This month is poignant because of the [one-year] anniversary of Leah Sharibu’s abduction. We call on all those who value freedom of religion or belief to join us on Tuesday, 19 February to send a message to the incoming Nigerian government that Leah’s courage has not been forgotten, and that we continue to stand with Leah, her family and all the other women and girls held by Boko Haram, and call for every effort to be made to secure their freedom and reunification with their families.”

The protest will be held just three days after Nigerian citizens are due to go to the polls and vote in the general election to elect the country’s President and the National Assembly. Commenting on the election, Thomas said: This is a pivotal year for the nation of Nigeria in light of the general election on 16 February, and we urge Christians everywhere to join in prayer for a free, fair and peaceful vote.”

As the Evangelical Church Winning All, the denomination to which Leah belongs, marks 19 February with prayer and fasting for Boko Haram’s captives, and a Nigeria Day of Prayer’ event is held on 12 February, in collaboration with CSW Nigeria, to pray for a free, fair and peaceful election, CSW urges Christians in the UK to also unite in prayer for these courageous girls and women as well as the upcoming general election. 

A CSW spokesperson said: We believe in the power of prayer to bring change, and that if we pray in unity the general public will be able to go out and vote without fear of insecurity and intimidation; people will exercise their civic responsibility in obedience to the laws of the land and ultimately in obedience to God; there will be a peaceful, free and fair election; and there will be no pre- or post-electoral violence from terrorist groups or from supporters of differing political parties.”

Visit www​.csw​.org​.uk/​p​r​a​y​f​o​r​n​i​geria for more information on the religious and political climates in Nigeria and how you can help a country in need.

The Evangelical Alliance is pleased to partner with Release International, Open Doors UK and Christian Solidarity Worldwide as the Religious Liberty Commission. Find out more about our commitment to speaking up for religious freedom around the world.

About the author

Naomi joined the Evangelical Alliance in 2018 as editorial content manager. Positions with publishers and within the marketing and communications faculty of a higher education institution, plus stints as a reporter, have enabled the media and cultural studies graduate, who has an NCTJ diploma in newspaper journalism, to hone the necessary skills and qualities to serve members well.

See more from Naomi Osinnowo

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