Nigerian President Tells 100-Plus Girls Freed By Boko Haram To Follow Their Dreams : Parallels Days after their release, Muhammadu Buhari told the girls seized in the Feb. 19 mass abduction by an ISIS-affiliated faction of Boko Haram to embrace the future and pursue their dreams, without fear.

Nigerian President Tells 100-Plus Girls Freed By Boko Haram To Follow Their Dreams

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To Nigeria now, where more than 100 girls were released by Boko Haram last week, a month after they were abducted from their boarding school in the northeast town of Dapchi. But one 15-year-old remains in captivity. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports on why she was left behind.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: President Muhammadu Buhari has met 106 Dapchi schoolgirls and one lone boy freed with them. He told the girls, seized in the February 19 mass abduction by an ISIS-affiliated faction of Boko Haram, to embrace the future and pursue their dreams without fear.


PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI: We want to ensure you as our daughters that you will freely live and pursue your dreams in Nigeria, without fear of violence.

QUIST-ARCTON: But one Dapchi schoolgirl, 15-year-old Leah Sharibu is Christian and refused to convert to Islam. So the extremists are still holding her captive. That's what her freed schoolmates have been telling Leah Sharibu's parents. Her father, Nathan Sharibu, says he's proud of his daughter for resisting the demands of Boko Haram fighters.

NATHAN SHARIBU: Those who captured Leah told Leah that if she wants to be released, Leah must become a Muslim. And Leah said that she will never be a Muslim. She was a Christian. I'm very, very happy about my daughter - the way she behaved.

QUIST-ARCTON: But Nathan Sharibu admits it was devastating especially for his wife, who fell down, fainted and had to be taken to the hospital when she realized her daughter was not among the girls being released by Boko Haram. Rebecca Sharibu says she feels so bad for Leah.

REBECCA SHARIBU: I'm so worried. I am still worried about her. Every day I'm doing fasting for Leah. I'm still fasting. Let the government try their best to bring her to me.

QUIST-ARCTON: The mother says the entire Dapchi community - Muslims and Christians alike - are praying her daughter Leah will soon be reunited with their family. President Buhari has promised the Sharibus that his administration will do its utmost to return the lone missing Dapchi girl safely back home to her parents. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News.

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