A persecution watchdog group is calling on the Nigerian government to launch an investigation into reports that 16-year-old Leah Sharibu, the Nigerian schoolgirl kidnapped by terrorists last year, has been killed.
Last week, reports surfaced that the Boko Haram splinter group ISWAP — a group that has ties to Islamic State terrorists — released a disturbing three-minute video of six Christian aid workers begging for their lives after being kidnapped by the group in a raid earlier this month. ISWAP is the Islamic extremist group that also kidnapped Sharibu along with more than 100 other schoolgirls in the town of Dapchi on Feb. 19, 2018.
In the video, Grace Taku, an aid worker with Action Against Hunger, pleads for her life and references Sharibu and the kidnapped Christian aid worker and mother, Alice Ngaddah.
"I am begging on behalf of all of us," Taku says in a transcript of the video circulating online. "I don't want such to happen to us and it also happened again with Leah and Alice, because Nigeria could not do anything about them, they were not released, they were also killed."
About five of the schoolgirls kidnapped along with Sharibu died and all others were released weeks later. The jihadis reportedly did not release Sharibu with her classmates because of her refusal to renounce her faith in Christ.
In a statement released on July 26, persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA, which has worked closely with Sharibu's family since her abduction, cautioned against buying into reports of her death.
"We, along with other observers, find the claim highly incredulous," an Open Doors spokesperson said. "Grace is clearly traumatized and under immense pressure as she tries to relay a lot of information."
Still, the group is urging Nigeria's government to immediately launch an investigation into the report, adding that if it proves true, her death illustrates that Nigerian President Buhari and his government have "abandoned international standards of human rights by failing to provide even the most rudimentary protections to religious minorities, and to make honest efforts to hold violators to justice," Open Doors President David Curry said.
Curry added that despite years of promises from Nigeria's government, Boko Haram and Fulani militants continue to kill and massacre Christians without pushback.