BBOG In Third Day Campaign Pushes For Soldiers’ Welfare

Oby-Ezekwesili3Members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group have again reconvened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, this time, in addition to seeking the release of the abducted Chibok girls, they are pushing for soldiers’ welfare.

The co-convener of the group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, told Channels Television that the focus of the third day gathering was to press for a better welfare for soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army.

Dr. Ezekwesili explained that the group was appalled with the way soldiers at the war front were treated by the authorities.

She said Tuesday’s protest, apart from seeking the release of the remaining Chibok girls, would also focus on what she called the military project and welfare of the officers.

Recently, a video emerged where soldiers were seen protesting non-availability of water and ammunition needed to prosecute the war against Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast.

Nigerian Troops Recover Another Chibok Girl
Depressed looking Rakiya Abubkar was recovered by troops of the Nigerian Army on January 5.

Several soldiers have been killed in counter-insurgency war in the northeast while some have been maimed.

Boko Haram terrorists had in 2014 April abducted over 200 girls from their school’s dormitory in Chibok.

Since their abduction, less than 70 of the girls have been rescued by the military.

The BBOG group has held series of protests to make the government heighten efforts to rescue the girls.

Last week, one of the girls was recovered with her six-month baby.

The spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sani Usman, confirmed the girl’s recovery on January 5.

He stated that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, during investigation of arrested suspected Boko Haram terrorists, discovered one of the abducted Chibok School girls, Rakiya Abubkar, with her six months old baby.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued GirlsNormalcy is beginning to return to Chibok, the Borno town as the 21 released girls returned back home after over two years of being in Boko Haram captivity.

The Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, visited the town to spend time with the rescued girls and supervise the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure in the community.

The rescued girls were brought to Chibok to spend the Christmas holiday for the first time since their abduction.

Their return brought excitement and hope to people of the community although only very close family members were allowed access to the girls, as heavily armed security operatives prevented passage to the home where they are being kept.

Speaking to Channels Television, grandmother to one of the rescued girls, Kyallu Ibrahim, expressed excitement over the return of her daughter.

“I never thought I’ll ever see my grandchild again, I thought she was dead. It was a nightmare when they took them away but we are glad she is finally back we are grateful to God and the government for bringing them back and we pray for the other girls that are yet to return.”

Families whose daughters are yet to return have mixed feelings even as those rescued are celebrating, they can only hope for their own wards would one day return.

Speaking on the insecurity in the region, a women group leader, Comfort Dunama, explained that every family in Chibok has either lost a child or relative in the April 2014 abduction of the girls.

This according to her, has made nearly 800 locals to become volunteer vigilantes which has paid off in securing the community according to local leaders.

Commander Chibok Vigilante Group, Apogu Gaji, said: “After the kidnap of the girls more people came to join us.

“In the past, we were not more than 50 but today we have up to 500 volunteers. We have engaged Boko Haram in battles, arrested some, killed some and we submit the arms we recover to the army.

“We also suffered casualties but we dealt with them thoroughly and as of now there is no Boko Haram camp around our villages neither do they use any route with their motorcycles. We don’t see them again and everyone feels safe these days,” Gaji stated.

Shettima, while promising to rebuild damaged infrastructure, stated that nothing is too much to do for the girls and their families, who have suffered a lot already.

Consoling parents whose daughters are yet to be rescued, he said all hands are on deck to ensure the return of all the girls.

He then went on to demand explanation over the 500 million Naira approved under the safe school initiative project, for the remodelling of the Chibok school.

“They have released 500 million Naira, I have not seen what they did in Government Secondary School Chibok. We shall go to the federal government, and the safe school initiative and the federal Ministry of Finance and demand what they did with the money.

“People should stop buying and selling with the name of Chibok, it is very unfortunate.

We shall also revoke the contract for the Damboa/ Chibok road and in the coming year, we are directing the Borno Road Maintenance Agency with the sum of 500 million naira to fix the road,” the governor stressed.

21 Released Chibok Girls Reunite With Parents

released chibok girls reunited with parentsThe 21 Chibok girls released from the captivity of Boko Haram militants during the week have been reunited with their parents.

The rescued girls were reunited with their parents during a thanksgiving service held on Sunday in the nation’s capital city, Abuja.

Speaking at the church service, the Minister of Information Mr Lai Mohammed, announced that “the Federal Government is negotiating with Boko Haram for the release of the remaining Chibok Girls”.

chibok girls rescued
Tears flowed freely, as parents embrace their children

It was an atmosphere of celebration, with the girls singing and dancing, thanking God for their release.

Endured Captivity

At a point, one of the girls took the microphone and sang thanksgiving songs and the others joined her in the merriment, serenading the environment  with a feeling of joy and relief.

For over two years they have endured captivity in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists.

A parent, who could not hold back her joy, strapped her daughter to her back

Their freedom last Thursday took the world by surprise.

One of the girls, Gloria Dame, who spoke on behalf of the group in Hausa, said they were grateful to be alive.

After her speech, the service continued, with a priest delivering words of encouragement to the girls.

In his sermon, Dr. Shiktra Kwali 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.

Midway into the service, however, the parents of the girls arrived and not minding the downpour, the girls on identifying their parents ran to embrace them.

From Tears To Dancing

Tears flowed freely and emotions were visible, as the parents finally reunited with their children.

With calm restored, the mood changed from tears to dancing of joy among the parents and their children.

A procession of the 21 released Chibok girls dancing into a space set up for a thanksgiving service

Some of the parents of the released girls shared their feelings about the return of their children.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, assured them that the government was working for the release of the remaining girls.

Over 200 girls were taken from their school’s dormitory on April 14, 2014 by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Their abduction triggered wide-spread protests globally, popularising a “Bring Back Our Girls” slogan.

Less than 40 of the girls have been rescued so far.

Confirming the release of the girls on Thursday, Mr Mohammed told reporters that the Federal Government secured the release of the girls through the collaborative efforts of the security agencies, a friendly European country and a renowned International Humanitarian Organisation.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, says girls will be immediately rehabilitated

“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.

The government had said it would begin an immediate rehabilitation of the released Chibok girls.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced the plan after seeing the girls at the Department Of State Services (DSS) office in Abuja on Thursday.