Nigeria’s Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development Aisha Alhassan says her outfit is taking care of the rehabilitation of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls released at the weekend.
The schoolgirls, released in an exchange deal with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram which captured them in 2014, have been in the Nigerian capital Abuja, since they were taken there to with President Muhammadu Buhari before his departure to London at the weekend.
Speaking to the media after a meeting between the first lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari and the Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja, Aisha Alhassan indicated that the rescued girls, who have been in captivity for three years, will undergo medical tests after which once they are “declared medically fit, they come back to us then they go through the rehabilitation and reintegration program”.
it is our work to give them training to bring them to the level they can go back to school, to the formal school and compete with the others
“It is our work to give them psycho-social support,” the Minister said adding that “it is our work to give them training to bring them to the level they can go back to school, to the formal school and compete with the others, so we do like the refresher courses for them and of course vocational training”.
The recent batch of 82 girls, are the second to have been released by Boko Haram after 21 other girls were released in October 2016 following negotiations between the group, the Nigerian government and other partners.
Three other Chibok girls managed to flee from Boko Haram after over a year in captivity and 57 others escaped during their abduction in 2014.
So far, 113 Chibok girls remain unaccounted for.
The Women Affairs Minister says parents of the girls – who have been in the care of the government since their release last Saturday – “are free to come to see them anytime” even as the girls undergo rehabilitation “and if any of the girls wants to go home and come back, they can”.
One of the rescued girls according to the minister has gone home to visit her family.
“She indicated that she wanted to go home. She is at home now, she will spend two weeks and come back,” Aisha Alhassan said adding that the girls “are staying here of their own freewill, nobody is compelling them to be here”.
A representative of the group of Chibok parents whose daughters have been kidnapped, Yakubu Nkeki told the AFP news agency that the parents do not mind waiting for their daughters to undergo rehabilitation because “their health and wellbeing are our priority and such evaluations take time, especially with such a large number of girls.”
Nkeki who has seen the girls since their release also told AFP that they are in good health and in good spirits.
Photographs of the 82 girls are said to have been sent back to Chibok and the surrounding villages to enable the parents verify and confirm the identities of their daughters.
This has become necessary after doubts were raised last year over the identity of a girl rescued from the militant group.
Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State has since 2009 killed at least 20,000 people and forced about 2.6 million others to be displaced in their quest to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.