Freed Chibok girls recount ordeal in Sambisa forest

THE 21 freed Chibok girls, in Abuja, on Sunday, said for “one month and 10 days,” of their abduction by the Boko Haram insurgents, they stayed without food in Sambisa forest.

One of the girls that were recently released by their abductors, Miss Gloria Dame, on Sunday, said they never thought they would regain freedom.

This came as she called for fasting and prayer for the safe release of those still held by their captors.

Miss Gloria, who spoke on behalf of the freed girls at a thanksgiving service/reunion with parents in Abuja, said it was God who made it possible for them to regain their freedom.

Tears flowed freely as parents took turns to identify their daughters at the event, with a parent carrying her daughter on her back in happiness.

With the arrival of the parents, the environment was charged with emotion and tears of joy.

Recalling their ordeal in captivity, Gloria, who spoke in Hausa, prayed that God would ensure the safe release of other girls still in captivity.

She also commended all those who made their safe release and reunion with their families possible.

“We never thought we would ever see this moment, but God has made it possible for us.

“I did not know that a day like this will come that we will be dancing and giving thanks to God among the people.

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“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.

Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Mr Yaga Yarakawa, said the release of the girls was “historic,” adding that 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 manifests naturally.

“This is enough to tell you that it is a reality and anybody who says different things or doubting, may be the person has a different agenda altogether,” he said.

Also, chairman of the parents of the abducted schoolgirls, Yakubu Nkeki, debunked the reports which alleged that 18 out of the 21 freed girls were pregnant.

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He also denied that the girls were radicalised by Boko Haram members.

Nkeki appealed for end to all speculations, particularly on the social media, which he said were capable of putting the lives of the girls at risk.

He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the courage and political will that eventually led to the release of the abducted girls.

Earlier, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had appealed to commentators and analysts to stop making statements that could jeopardise the release of the remaining abducted girls.

He condemned those he termed reckless analysts and commentators, saying they were 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,” he said.

The minister appealed to the parents of the girls who were yet to be freed to continue to exercise patience with the government.

“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 ongoing even as we speak,” he said.

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The minister reiterated that the girls were not swapped for Boko Haram members in captivity, adding also that the government did not pay ransom for their release.

He said it was unparallel in the history of kidnapping and terrorism what the government had done, securing the release of the girls safely without any ransom or swap.

Also at the service was the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Jummai Alhassan.

In his sermon, Dr Shiktra Kwali told the girls that they should not allow the experience of the past to weigh them down as they start a new life in freedom.

He urged them to remain steadfast in serving the Lord Who did not forsake them in captivity.

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