The father of a Christian girl being held by Boko Haram Islamist militants since February has told the BBC he is relieved to have heard her voice in a recently released audio recording.
Leah Sharibu was one of more than 100 girls kidnapped from the town of Dapchi, in the north-eastern state of Yobe. But unlike the others, she was not released in March, a month after their capture, as she reportedly refused to convert to Islam. Five other girls died in captivity.
Her father, Nathan Sharibu, has told BBC’s Pidgin that the recording has given the family hope:
I’m really encouraged that I heard the words of my favourite daughter. It really is her voice. Because before I thought she wasn’t even alive.”
In the 35-second audio recording, published by Nigeria’s Cable newspaper on Monday, the 15-year-old calls on the government to help her.
It is not clear how the paper got hold of the audio, but the Cable says it may be part of attempts to renew negotiations.
Miss Sharibu is being held by a Boko Haram faction known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (Iswap).
The Nigerian authorities said the secret service was analysing the recording.
Mr Sharibu said the whole family was pleading for the government to do more – as were “Christians and some Muslims that are praying for my daughter”.
“We are very very sad in the family. I hope they will put more pressure concerning her release.”
Cover photo: Most of the girls were released in March, a month after they had been taken hostage. Photo: Reuters