Nigeria: 82 Freed Chibok Girls To Reunite With Parents ‘Next Week’
Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, has disclosed that the 82 Chibok schoolgirls who were released after being held for more than three years by Boko Haram will be reunited with their parents next week.
According to her, the parents of the students will travel from Chibok community in Borno State to meet their daughters in the capital, Abuja.
“Any parents that identified their children will be brought next week to see them,” she told AFP at the staff quarters of the Department of State Services.
The 82 have been staying at the domestic intelligence agency facility on the outskirts of the city since their release in a prisoner swap deal on Saturday after months of negotiations.
The Islamist militants seized 276 girls in April 2014, triggering global condemnation and drawing attention to the bloody insurgency. Fifty-seven escaped in the immediate aftermath. Of the 219 who did not manage to flee, 106 have either been released or found, leaving 113 still missing.
First Lady Aisha Buhari, whose husband President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on a pledge to defeat Boko Haram, met some of the Chibok girls on Wednesday. The girls, dressed in colourful traditional ankara print dresses, sang songs and danced in front of the cameras.
Most chose to stay in the capital, she added.
The government’s goal is to have all the girls back in school at the start of the new academic year, she added, without specifying where.
“I believe from now to September, these other ones (the recently released 82 girls) would have stabilised and we will be able to take all of them back to school in September.”
Thousands of women and young girls have been abducted in the eight-year insurgency, which has left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than 2.6 million.
Information minister Lai Mohammed meanwhile indicated talks with Boko Haram about the release of the remaining 113 girls could pave the way for a possible end to the conflict.
“We are looking beyond the release of these girls. We are looking at something much more comprehensive, which is the cessation of all hostilities,” he said.
By Tunde Oguntola