By Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal, Abuja and Francis Okoye, Maiduguri
A frenzy of excitement has engulfed Chibok community in Borno State as parents of the 82 schoolgirls who were released after three years in Boko Haram captivity wait patiently to see them next week.
This followed the announcement by government that the girls will be reunited with their parents next week.
Since they were released last Saturday in a prisoner swap deal after months of negotiations between government and the sect, the 82 girls have been staying in a facility of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that this week has been celebration galore for the parents of the 82 girls who said their joy know no bounds for what they consider a dream come true, that after three years of pain, anguish and prayers, they will reunite with their daughter again.
Those whose daughters are yet to return told our correspondent that they see the excitement of parents of the freed girls as an opportunity to renew their hope that one day they too would experience the same joy.
Father of one of the 82 girls, Mustapha Amos, whose daughter, Ruth Amos is number 33 on the list, said his joy knew no bounds when he received the news that his daughter had been found.
Thanking God for wiping away his tears after three years of psychological captivity, he also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian military, the #BringBackOurGirls group and all those who contributed to the release of their daughters.
“We are grateful to God for the return of our daughters. It has been painful since the incident occurred, but we put our hope in God that one day something like this will happen. Chibok Community is still celebrating the return of our daughters, hoping and praying for the last batch to return”.
Following the release of 82 girls of Government Secondary School Chibok on May 8, 2017, after weeks of grueling negotiations between the federal government and the Boko Haram insurgents, varied opinions erupted in the social.
While many hoped that another batch of the abducted girls would soon be released, others prayed it was not another hoax, with some other laughing the government to scorn, insinuating that the girls were not missing in the first place.
Many Nigerians stayed away from the controversy, while others just felt too happy to engage in the polemics and a few more toeing a fine line in the middle.
But the parents of the Chibok girls chided those claiming the abduction was a shame, describing them as evil and satanic.
Continuing, Amos said he was sad about those who insist that the girls’ abduction was made up.
He said, “They must have been enjoying the activities of the terrorists or they are possibly Boko Haram sympathisers because only the parents know what they have gone through since the abduction of their loved ones.
“Such insinuations are evil, as no parent will wish that his child will be taken away for over 1000 days for politics or whatever, especially when it involves over 219 parents. Such persons must be agents of the devil who are satanic in mind. Who knows, one day a similar incident will befall them for others to talk in the manner they are talking.
“We have lost over 19 of our brothers to trauma and agony because of the issue and somebody will sit comfortably somewhere and be speaking evil over someone’s tragedy. The same thing led to the delay in the rescue of our daughters by the previous administration, because the government then did not believe the abduction. When reality dawned on them, it was too late”.
Similarly, Dr Allen Manasseh, the youth leader of the Chibok community, told our correspondent that, while they celebrate the return of the 82 abducted girls, they were not ready to engage anybody with passion for ignorance.
“Anybody who is in doubt should go conduct a personal investigation to satisfy his or her appetite for ignorance”, he said.
Similarly, Lynda Aboku, a native of Chibok whose aunt is one of the missing girls, urged government to ignore detractors who have been saying negative things since the release of the 82 girls.
“The permanent incapacitation of the two girls is enough evidence for anybody to know that they have been with the terrorists”, she told LEADERSHIP Weekend that
Also, Alhaji Ahmed Ashemi, a native of the Chibok had a word for the doubters. He said, “For those who are saying the abduction is not true, can we now say that it was the former administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that, ab initio, abducted the girls? If they are the people who abducted the girls, are they collaborating with the present administration to cover up their plots?
“Whoever is saying that the girls were never abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists must be mourning the demise of the previous administration who failed to contend the terrorists or carry out successful negotiations that could lead to the release of, at least, one of the girls.
“It is absurd to make such statement. Such people should stop politicising national catastrophe for selfish interest. It is unfair to the parents of the abducted girls who have been living in trauma since the incident occurred three years ago. The parents are there in Chibok for anyone to see. Some have even died because of the trauma of missing their loved ones. Over 270 parents can’t see their children stay away for 1000 days for political gimmicks”.
The principal of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Asabe Kwambura, told our correspondent that she had witnessed the death of more than 19 of the parents from trauma, heart failure and disillusionment resulting from the loss of their loved ones.
The principal further noted that she was aware that the abduction was a façade and for which she was elevated to the position of a commissioner in the state.
She said, “For those who have been saying all these, my message to them is to know that God is watching them. Till today, I only remain the principal of Government Secondary School Chibok and have not been offered any appointment by Borno State government since then.
“I have been putting up with my family at the staff quarters of Government Girls College (GGC), Maiduguri following the destruction of my house in Chibok. My granddaughter is among the remaining 113 abducted girls yet to be found. Her name is Dorcas Yakubu”.
Only Misguided Elements Think It Is A Hoax – Ezekwesili
Meanwhile, former minister of Education and one of the conveners of #BringBackOurGirls group, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said it was “unnatural and amazing” that some people did not believe that the girls were ever abducted.
She said she would not be drawn into a war of words by doubters on Twitter.
Underlining her position on the issue, Ezekwesili said, “[The girls’] healing will start from first being able to trust family with their tragic experience and then, at some point, to healthily put behind them [their experiences].
“As for some of you who say this is all a hoax, you cannot be helped [or explained to]. It will be a waste of human energy doing so. Look at how long we have been doing this] and some misguided elements still think the whole Chibok girls issue is a hoax. God bless them”.