Girls refusing rescue should be forced out –Chibok leaders
Olalekan Adetayo and Eniola Akinkuotu
Leaders of Chibok community, under the aegis of Kibaku Area Development Association, have faulted a negotiator, Zannah Mustapha, for saying that some abducted schoolgirls refused to be part of a group of 82 girls freed at the weekend.
The Chairman, Chibok Community in Abuja, Hosea Tsambido, told reporters in Abuja, on Tuesday, that the attitude of the Federal Government was not only suspicious but was at variance with how the government handled the rescue of the 21 schoolgirls in October last year.
Tsambido said the community would never accept such a claim because the government could use it as an excuse to give up on the rescue of the other girls.
He added, “The most disheartening and annoying thing is the statement credited to one of the negotiators who said some of the girls refused to come out. We don’t want to hear that, even if the girls don’t want to come out, it is not for him to advertise.
“The girls must come out, whether they like it or not; they should force them out, just as they were forced in, they should be forced out. As their mind was changed by Boko Haram, when they return to us, we will change their mind back.”
Tsambido said some politicians from Borno State were allowed to see the girls, who are currently in the custody of the Department of State Services, lamenting that Chibok leaders, resident in Abuja, were denied access to the girls.
He added, “We have still not been contacted; parents have still not been contacted. All I was told is that some people from Chibok, two district heads and the former and present chairmen of the local government area, came to Abuja and were allowed access to the girls. Some community leaders from Abuja, who went with them, were barred from entering.’’
The leader explained that he had matched the names of the freed girls with the list he had with him.
“I started comparing the list with the one that I have and I have seen a good number of the names that matched the list I have, so I believe that they are the Chibok girls,” Tsambido stated.
In a statement by Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, the co-conveners of the Bring Back Our Girls group, the BBOG said it had begun the verification of the identities of the rescued girls.
It said some of the parents had already developed health problems like hypertension, arguing that the continued suspense could worsen their conditions.
The statement read in part, “Our movement has begun the elementary process of verification and authentication of the identities of our released 82 Chibok girls based on the list in the public domain (this list alone does not suffice for our process). We shall communicate our full report to the public soon.
“We urge the Federal Government to use the verification, authentication, and reunification system in confirming the identities of our returned girls.
“We also urge the Federal Government to quickly liaise with parents of our Chibok girls and the Kibaku Area Development Association i.e. the Chibok community as was done in the four previous times our girls returned.”
One of the girls refused peace deal because of marriage
One of the kidnapped schoolgirls refused to be part of those to be released because she had married one of the Boko Haram fighters, according to Garba Shehu, one of the spokesmen for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Shehu stated that the militants had agreed to the release of 83 of the teenagers, who were abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014.
Speaking on Channels Television on Tuesday, he said, “One said, ‘No, I have a husband. I’m happy where I am’; and then, 82 came back.”
Shehu said the government was working to verify the identities of the 82, so they could be reunited with their families as soon as possible.
“Names of the released girls have been published already but we do not want a repeat of duplications that we had when the first set of 21 girls were released.
“Because of similarities in names, we had two or three sets of parents coming on the assumptions that the girls mentioned were theirs. We don’t want to create that confusion,” he stated.
He added that the Federal Government would not stop any parent from immediately establishing contact with their daughters.
Rather than stopping them from meeting their daughters, the presidential spokesman said government would facilitate a quick reunion.
Shehu said, “Yesterday (Monday), photographs of all the girls were taken. These pictures were printed and dispatched to Chibok.
“These young ladies did not all come from Chibok township itself but some from various settlements scattered around the town.”
He explained that once the parents get the pictures and verify the identities of their daughters, they are free to come to Abuja to meet with their daughters.
Shehu described the long distance between Abuja and Chibok as another challenge, saying the journey by road would take two days.
UN canvasses support to release remaining girls
Meanwhile, the United Nations has urged the international community to support the Nigerian government in its efforts to ensure the release of the over 100 Chibok schoolgirls who are still in the captivity of the terror sect.
It also welcomed the release of the 82 girls, appealing to all citizens in the country to support the Federal Government’s reintegration programme for the girls.
The UN’s Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter Lundberg, disclosed this in a statement by the global organisation and made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday by Oxfam Nigeria.
Lundberg said, “Over 100 of these school-girls are still unaccounted for, and the United Nations urges the international community to continue supporting the government of Nigeria in its efforts to ensure the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of all the children, women and men who are victims of Boko Haram.”
The UN, in its statement, further noted that despite the encouraging news of the recent release of the 82 schoolgirls, insecurity had continued to affect millions of people living in the six states in the North-East amid a deepening humanitarian crisis.
It said three states in the region were highly affected by the deepening humanitarian crisis, but pledged to continue supporting the Federal Government through the provision of the needed relief items.
The global organisation added, “Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, where 8.5 million people are in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection, are the most directly affected by conflict and mass forced displacement.”
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