Relatives of missing Nigerian schoolgirls on Wednesday expressed their excitement over the rescue of one of the missing Chibok girls.
Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki is the first of more than 200 schoolgirls to have been rescued after they were seized in a raid on their school in Chibok town by Boko Haram militants.
Soldiers working together with a civilian vigilante group rescued the girl and her four-month old baby near Damboa in the remote northeast, an army spokesman said.
Everyday I've been here because of the hope, and now our hope has been rekindled because of the rescue of this very one that I got the news today.
They also detained a “suspected Boko Haram terrorist” called Mohammed Hayatu who claimed to be the girl’s husband.
The Secretary of an association of parents of the missing girls said the teenager Amina Ali was found on Tuesday near the Sambisa forest close to the border with Cameroon.
Chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, Tsambido Hosea, confirmed the discovery.
“Yes her name is Amina Ali Darsa Nkeki, and she is from Balala village unit of Chibok local government. So there is no ambiguity, there is no mincing of words, there is no other form of authentication that one will go for it, apart from what we have gotten,” he said.
Amina was found in an area of Kulakasha at the fringes of Sambisa forest. Activists quoted her saying that her schoolmates were still in the Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s biggest stronghold in the remote north.
Uncle of two of the abducted Chibok girls, Nkeki Mutah said the rescue gave relatives fresh hope that the remaining girls will be found alive.
“You can imagine since this abduction, we have been here everyday, unless if I am not in Abuja. Everyday I’ve been here because of the hope, and now our hope has been rekindled because of the rescue of this very one that I got the news today,” he said.
Boko Haram militants captured a total of 276 girls in a raid on their school in April 2014. Dozens of them escaped in the initial melee but more than 200 remained unaccounted for. Three mothers of abductees said they recognised their daughters in a video released in April.
Parents had accused former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s leader at the time of the mass kidnap, of not doing enough to track them down and bring them home.
The insurgents have killed an estimated 15,000 people and kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children in their six-year campaign to carve out a medieval Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
Borno state governor Kashim Shettima told reporters Ali was on her way to the state capital, Maiduguri.
The rescue will give a boost to President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who had made crushing the Boko Haram insurgency a central pillar of his campaign for the leadership of Africa’s most populous nation.