The Bring Back Our Girls campaign group says it will continue to keep the government on its toes to ensure that the full rehabilitation and re-integration of the 21 released Chibok girls.
The girls who were students of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok were abducted on April 14, 2014 by members of the Boko Haram terrorists group.
They regained freedom on Thursday, after the government secured their release through negotiation.
Speaking with Channels Television at the usual sit out of the group on Sunday, a co-convener of the group, Aisha Yessuff, said the group would monitor to ensure that the promises made to the girls such as re-integrating them into schools were fulfilled.
The group also called on international organisations who had pledged their support in the past to ensure that they help the Federal Government in the rehabilitation of the girls.
“What we are assuring Nigerians is that we will not allow the government to shift from its responsibility.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that they get the right education that they can.
“BBOG can help in whatever way it can to ensure that they get that right education,” she promised.
Mrs Yessuff, however, pointed out that now that some girls had regained freedom, it was time for the government to come in and help rehabilitate the girls.
The group, however, said it would continue in its advocacy to ensure the release of not just the remaining school girls still in captivity, but that of every Nigerian that is still in captivity.
The government had promised that it would secure the release of the other girls still in captivity.
While efforts continue to ensure that other girls are released, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed has warned Nigerians to avoid reckless analysis that could jeopardise the chances of securing the girls’ release.
The Nigerian government has appealed to commentators and analysts to refrain from making statements that can jeopardise the release of other Chibok girls who are still in captivity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made the appeal on Sunday in Abuja at a special thanksgiving Church Service and reunion of the 21 recent released girls with their families.
The Chibok girls were released on Thursday after over two years in the custody of Boko Haram terrorists.
“They are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity. Therefore, we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible,” he said.
Mr Mohammed, who quoted from the Scriptures – those who are with us are more than those who are with them- said those who doubted the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to the safe release and the reunion of the abducted Chibok girls with their parents were disappointed.
“When the President said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us so we thank God this day has come,” he said.
A New Life In Freedom
A statement by a spokesman for the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, said Mr Mohammed appealed to the parents of the girls who have not been freed to continue to exercise patience.
“This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch bigger than this will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are ongoing even as we speak,” he stated.
The Chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Chibok School Girls, Yakubu Nkeki, re-echoed the Minister’s plea by appealing to the people to stop spreading rumours, particularly on the Social Media, that would put the lives of the girls at risk.
He debunked some reports alleging that 18 of the 21 freed girls were pregnant even as he denied that the girls were radicalised by Boko Haram.
Mr Nkeki thanked President Buhari for summoning the courage and the political will that eventually led to the release of the abducted girls.
In her testimony, the spokesperson of the released girls, Miss Gloria Dame, who recalled their ordeal in captivity, thanked God and all those who made their safe release and reunion with their families possible.
Miss Dame, who spoke in Hausa, prayed that God would ensure the safe release of the other girls still in captivity.
“We never thought we will ever see this moment but God has made it possible for us. I want to appeal to all of us to fast and pray for the safe release of those left behind,” she said.
Dr. Shiktra Kwali, who delivered the sermon at the thanksgiving service, told the girls that as they start a new life in freedom, they should not allow the experience of the past to weigh them down.
He further urged them to remain steadfast in serving the Lord, who has not forsaken them even in captivity.
Several ministers of God, including the President of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), Reverend Joel Bilili, offered prayers for the girls.
The high-point of the occasion was the reunion between the parents and their daughters.
Tears flowed freely as parents took turns to identify their daughters, while one woman simply strapped her daughter to her back in happiness.
The ceremony ended with an identification parade, as each of the freed girls identified her parents who in turn made brief comments, with many of them praising President Buhari for ensuring the safe release of the girls
“We can confirm that 21 of the girls were released, safely, to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release.
“This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr President to secure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families.
“It is also a result of the round-the-clock efforts by the Administration to put a closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls,” he stated.
‘Not A Swap’
After they were released there were speculations that their release was secured through a swap deal, but the Minister of Information also dismissed the claims.
He said that their release was based on confidence and not a swap arrangement with the terrorists group.
“This is not a swap. This was a release which was effected because over time, we succeeded in confidence building.
“This particular release is significant because it’s just a first step in what we believe will lead to the eventual release of all our girls in custody. It is significant also because we have been able to establish more than ever before a confidence in both the leadership of Boko Haram and Nigerians.
“I am not aware of any monetary transaction,” he said.
In fulfilment of a promise to rehabilitate the girls, after the celebration on Sunday, the girls were, however, not handed over to their parents. They are to remain with the government for some time for further medical assistance and counselling.