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“We escaped bomb blasts, starved for months” Chibok Girls recount ordeal

“We escaped bomb blasts, starved for months” Chibok Girls recount ordeal

The 21 Chibok Girls who regained their freedom last week Thursday have revealed that they stayed without food for one month and 10 days while in the custody of the Boko Haram insurgents. Many of the girls also escaped bomb blast while in the forest with the insurgents.

They were among the over 200 schoolgirls abducted from their hostel at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in April 2014. One of the rescued girls, Miss Gloria Dame, who narrated their ordeal on behalf of her colleagues, said their release from captivity was an act of God.

She spoke at a thanksgiving service organised for them at a DSS health facility in Abuja yesterday. The girl, who spoke in Hausa language, said that their survival in captivity was an act of God. “I did not know that a day like this will come that we will be dancing and giving thanks to God among people.

For one month and 10 days we stayed without food. I narrowly escaped bomb blast in the forest. “We are praying to God to touch the heart of Boko Haram to repent and we are calling on Nigerians to pray and fast for the release of our remaining ones in captivity,” she said.

While the service was going on, the parents of the freed girls arrived the venue and were reunited with their loved ones after over two years of their abduction. With the arrival of the parents, the environment was charged with emotion and tears of joy. Tears flowed freely as parents took turns to identify their daughters at the service, amidst tears of joy in an emotion-laden atmosphere.

One woman simply carried her daughter on her back in happiness. The parents who took turns to address the congregation, expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians for their efforts and prayers towards the rescue of their daughters. Chairman of Chibok Local Government Council, Mr. Yaga Yarakawa, said the release of the girls was historic and the Chibok community, at home and in the Diaspora, were happy about the development.

Yarakawa said contrary to views of some Nigerians, the 21 freed girls were the actual Chibok Secondary School girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. “Before their abduction, I was involved in supervising their feeding, which was organised by the Borno State Secondary Schools Feeding System. So, I know them very well. These are the real girls and you can see when their parents came, you see their joy, it manifest naturally.

“This is enough to tell you that it is a reality and anybody who says different things or doubts, may be the person has a different agenda altogether,” he said. Yarakawa appealed to government to put all necessary machinery in place to ensure the release of the other girls.

Speaking in same vein, the Chairman of Abducted Chibok Girls’ Parents Association, Mr. Yakubu Nkaki, thanked the president for the release of the girls. Nkaki said from the physical looks of the girls, it was obvious that they were not radicalised as claimed by some people.

He also debunked the claim that many of the girls were pregnant. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Jummai Alhassan, attended the service. Mohammed, who addressed the congregation, appealed to commentators and analysts to refrain from making statements that could jeopardise the release of the Chibok girls who are still in captivity. “There are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity.

Therefore, we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible. “When the president said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us. So, we thank God this day has come,” he said.

The minister appealed to the parents of the girls who were yet to be freed to continue to exercise patience, saying that government was optimistic that very soon another batch of the girls, bigger than the current one, will be released. “This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch bigger than this will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are on-going even as we speak,” Mohammed said.

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