3 Oct 2017

Boko Haram: Celebration as FG Bids 106 Chibok Girls Farewell After 8 Months of Rehabilitation

The Nigerian government has bid farewell to 106 Chibok girls who were released from the custody of Boko Haram in February and underwent eight month rehabilitation in Abuja.

The President Muhamamdu Buhari-led Federal Government have bade farewell to 106 Chibok school girls after the completion of their months of rehabilitation programme at the National Centre for Women Development, Abuja.

According to New Telegraph, there was outpour of emotions and the event was a show filled with glitz and glamour as the freed girls were re-united with their families and the larger community. The ceremony was also a celebration of the realisation of their dreams as they would soon resume formal education at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.

The girls, who looked pale, haggard and pitiable when they were released from the custody of Boko Haram now look refreshed and cheerful after just eight months of undergoing the special rehabilitation and reintegration programme organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

Minutes before the show started, the girls were driven to the event venue in two high capacity buses. As soon as they trooped into the hall, they began to dance cheerfully to the rhythm of songs rendered by an in house choir. Each of them wore charming smile and glowing faces in their beautifully designed ankara outfits.

They interacted with their family members that came to grace the occasion before the main event started in earnest. They were however under the close watch of some security personnel, who provided a buffer zone to ensure that they did not interact with journalists and shared no information with them on their release.

These young women were among the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko haram terrorists at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in 2014. They have spent 8 months undergoing rehabilitation therapy.

The first batch of 21 girls were released by the terrorists in October 2016 following a series of negotiations with the Federal Government. In May this year, Boko Haram released a second batch of 82 girls, leaving about 113 girls in captivity.

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, said the girls were “fully recovered” and would be handed over to their parents at the end of the send forth ceremony.

Alhassan said the girls spent a number of months in government custody, undergoing psycho-social therapy after their traumatic experience in the hands of the terrorists. According to her, they have been “fully rehabilitated” and the government has promised to sponsor their further education.

“They are going to be in one of the best schools, the American University of Nigeria, where they will start a special foundation programme like a pre-degree. It’s a very happy day. When the girls came out, they were so traumatised that they did not even believe they were really free.”

Alhassan explained that after the completion of the special foundation, the girls would be at the liberty to choose any course of their choice for their degree programmes at the university.

According to her, the Federal Government has paid their school fees, noting that the girls will resume at the school in two weeks after reuniting with their parents and friends in Chibok town. Alhassan said negotiations between the government and the terrorists were still ongoing to secure their release, adding that government has never relented since the release of 82 girls in May.

Alhassan expressed happiness toward the support received from various development partners during the rehabilitation programme for the girls. The organisations include; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Women and Borno State Government.

She pointed out that while in the rehabilitation centre, the girls have learnt and acquired skills in various vocational trainings, such as decoration, bead making, knitting and soap making.

Items donated to the girls included; suitcase, duvet, toiletries, cloth and other school item. She stated that this will further help the girls to be self reliant in their various endeavours.

Part of the side talks making round that night was if the girls were actually preparing for Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) before their abduction since they cannot communicate in simple English.

One of the teachers from the Ministry of Education said the rehabilitation programme had really helped in improving the girl’s lifestyle compared to when they were released. She added that the girls hated school when they were released but only liked church activities. She condemned insinuations that the girls were not going to school before they were abducted.

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