The Nigerian government has disclosed on Wednesday that the released girls abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State would undergo psychological and medical evaluation. It added that a boy was also released along with them.
Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, said their release by abductors suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists in the early hours of the day was done unconditionally as the non-combatant approach of the military was the saving grace.
Alhaji Muhammed disclosed these while speaking with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his words, “As I speak to you now, the girls are in General Hospital in Dapchi and the counsellors are there with them. Just as we did when we had the first and second sets of released Chibok girls, they will be quarantined and psychologically counseled before they go back to their schools.”
EduCeleb.com recalls that girls numbering about 110 girls according to government’s records were abducted from their hostels on 19th February. Since their abduction, there had been continuous calls for their release. The government also promised to further secure schools against a repeat of such incidents.
Mr Mohammed said the released abductees were reportedly dropped at various points on the road close to the school. He added that two of the kidnapped girls died during the abduction.
As at the time of filing this report, the actual number of released girls is not clear as government said only 91 had so far been documented.
Mohammed clarified that what he was saying was based on information handed down from officials in Yobe State.
“You see, all we can tell is what we got from our sources on ground. As things develop we will let you know. The girls were released unconditionally, no money changed hands. They only gave us one condition, that they will return them to where they picked them. So, in the early hours of today (Wednesday), they did return the girls and most of them went to their parents homes.
“As of now I can confirm that 91 girls and one boy have been released. The event is developing. Many of the girls that were released were not dropped in one place. Some were dropped on the road and they went back naturally to their parents’ houses.
“They are now being asked to come for documentation at a center and as at five minutes ago, I was told 91 girls and boy had been documented.”
On the boy that was released along with the girls, the minister added thus: “I can tell you that the report is authentic. Whether they picked the boy or not I can’t hazard any guess. But don’t forget even in a girl school, which is a boarding school there will be parents, there are teachers who can have children amongst them. But what I have been told is that 91 girls and one boy have been documented.”
“On the issue of delegation, I think we will clear that with relevant security authorities, it is not something I can talk about right now. We are constantly talking to those on ground. Don’t forget as of now that area has become an operational area and so we have to take advise from the security operatives on what to do.
“What is important is that we must be able to brief you regularly on development and we are constantly in touch with authorities in Dapchi.
“The report we got was that one condition the insurgents gave was that they will be the ones to drop the girls and they dropped them in the early hours of this morning.
“Like I said in the statement released to you earlier, once violence and confrontation was ruled out and negotiation started, there was a deliberate pause on the part of the military, in other words it was agreed that there will be no force and there will be no confrontation. That was why it was possible for them to drop the girls.
“It was part of the agreement that we will release the girls and there will be no violence or confrontation. And don’t forget that the lives of these children are much more important to us than any cheap victory.
“If you remember, immediately this thing happened, Mr. President actually directed the security agencies especially the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to man every school. But you see we must look at this thing in context, if you look at other countries like the United States, particularly in Florida you saw how gunmen entered the school and killed about 17 pupils. Insurgency is a global issue and the government must always be on its toes.
“One of the things we have done today is that we have tried to secure the schools and there are efforts on the part of government to even merge some schools, schools that are far flung.
Abductee relays what happened
One of the abductees, Khadija Grema told Channels Television in Dapchi that one of her colleagues later identified as Leah Sharibu was not released because she refused to convert to Islam.
She added that Boko Haram terrorists did not harm them but five of them died of exhaustion before they were returned to their community.
“That fateful day we were ready for dinner when we heard shootings then one of our teacher was calling and directing us to go out through the gate. When we run into the insurgents at the gate, they gathered all of us in the name of rescue when suddenly they asked Babangida the driver to bring the truck which they packed us in.
“As we continue to move into the bush they ask for those who are fasting among us. They then serve us drinks, meat and food after which we say our prayers and continue the journey. We cross several rivers and streams and into one house where we leave on till our departure day that’s yesterday. But to be honest we were well treated. They didn’t torture us as they treated us well throughout our stay in captivity.
“They didn’t do us anything and their major Language is Kanuri and Arab. There were no whites among them as all of them are Africans. We didn’t know why they brought us back but they told us we are Muslims and we share the same faith and they don’t want us to suffer.
“Five of our colleagues died of heart attack, trauma and stress as a result of the long trip. They didn’t allow us close to them neither do they subject us to any molestation any kind of sexual harassment with us. One of the girls was held back on the religious ground. She is a Christian and refused to denounce her religion,” she said.