Reacting to the recent news that 82 girls were released by the Government of Nigeria in exchange for 5 Boko Haram members in state custody, the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima’s said that the full rehabilitation of the 82 girls should be the collective priority of all.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Maiduguri, the State Capital after the release of the girls, the Governor called on the media to putthe rehabilitation of the girls first before their search for news.
Governor Shettima also stated that the Borno State Government will always be committed in whatever way necessary to partner with the Federal Government in the full rehabilitation and the education of these girls.
According to him, the girls release has renewed hope and strengthened faith in the commitment and capacity of the Buhari administration to continuously work towards the liberation of the remaining girls that are still in captivity.
While commending the military, members of the multi-national joint task force for their efforts in freeing the girls, the Governor also paid a special tribute to the parents of the girls, who he said suffered unimaginable trauma of going to bed and waking up without their daughters for over three years.
He urged parents whose daughters are not part of those freed so far, to keep their hopes alive and remain strong and prayerful.
The Governor thanked members of the local and international media for standing by the Chibok community and Borno State, adding that it is his fervent prayers that all persons abducted by the insurgents will be freed, the fight against Boko Haram will be won and that BornoState will witness enduring peace and prosperity.
The leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJalso commended the tenacity and perseverance of the Federal Government for the release of the 82 Chibok girls.
Signed by its national secretary Shuaibu Usman Leman, the NUJ statement recalled that the initial release of “21 out of the then over 200 Chibok girls held in captivity by Boko Haram were abducted from their school in Chibok on April 14, 2014” and expressed understanding of the difficulties in negotiation processes.
“Despite the various difficulties faced by the Federal Government in the process of these negotiations, Government has remained resolute and undeterred as a result of which another milestone was attained.”
Saluting the courage and forthrightness of all the state agents, foreign governments and international humanitarian agencies that put their lives at stake to secure thegirls release, the Union encouragedthe Government not to relent in its determination to ensure that the remaining Chibok girls and all other citizens in captivity are freed.
The Union also appealed to the Boko Haram leadership to continue to embrace dialogue rather than resorting to violent agitations insisting that Nigeria needs peace now more than ever before.
While commending the Federal Government,local and international organisations as well as security agencies for the release of 82 Chibok,the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), called on the Federal Government to urgently provide medical and psycho-social support for the girls who were subjected to untold trauma by their captors.
Ifeyinwa Omowole, NAWOJ president and LadiBala, national secretary NAWOJin a statement said the release of the school girls,in custody for over one thousand and ten days came as a relief to all Nigerians and a demonstration of government’s commitment to upholding the dignity and fundamental human rights of the girls.
NAWOJ further encouraged the Federal Government in its efforts to ensure the release of the remaining girls and other captives. They also appealedto the families and the communities of the girls not to stigmatise them but help them through the process of reintegration into the society.
The Women’s Torch has learnt one of the girls released Saturday returned with anamputated leg. The unnamed girl was among the 82 girls taken from Banki, a town on the border with Cameroon, to Abuja, where they were taken to a Department of State Services (DSS) clinic.
Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to President MuhammaduBuhari, who received the girls at the Abuja airport, two of the girls have injuries, “One has hand injury, and the other has a leg injury.”
He added that the amputation had nothing to do with the “rescue” operation, which he said was carried out “professionally, without any hitch.”
The director of medicals, DSS Clinic, Anne Okoroafor, assured that the girls would be given adequate medical care.
The 82 girls were among the over 200 female students kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School on April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven of the girls escaped while being taken away and three others were found or rescued by the military. On October 13, 2016, 21 girls were freed after the Swiss government and international Committee of Red Cross brokered a deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian government said in April it was collaborating with “foreign entities” to negotiate for the release of the remaining girls.
Veronica Ogbole / Nigeria