Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, stated this while speaking to a group of journalists on Saturday in Abuja.
A year and six months after Leah was abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State, Shehu insisted that the Federal Government is making efforts to ensure her release from her captors.
He dismissed reports that the schoolgirl had been harmed by her abductors, noting that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would not give up on her safe return.
“Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors,” Shehu was quoted as saying in a statement.
He added, “Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers, ISWA, to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.
“Contrary to false reports, she is alive – given assurances from our security agencies –, and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families.
“Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged. This means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists: refrain from rewarding their heinous crimes with payment.”
According to the presidential spokesman, the government understands how difficult these times are for Leah’s family and friends, with the abduction.
He, however, stated that the government was “pursuing many options” to ensure the safe return of the girls.
Shehu said, “We must commit to law and communication, using the breadth of strategies at our disposal: legal initiatives, stakeholder cooperation, involvement of all relevant parties, and the use of the latest hostage negotiation techniques.
”Kidnapping for ransom is rising across the Sahel. We must – collectively – make sure we implement best practice to prevent its exploitation.”
The President’s spokesman described reports of Leah’s death as ‘fake news’, and called for patience in dealing with the challenge the case poses.
He gave assurance that the present administration was fully conscious that any misstep on a delicate issue as such could be costly.