By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service, who was born in Nigeria
ABUJA, NIGERIA (ANS – January 5, 2017) — The Nigerian Army says that it has discovered another woman who had been kidnapped nearly three years ago from her school in Chibok, Nigeria.
World Watch Monitor (https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org), reveals that she is Rakiya Abubakar Gali, the daughter of Abubakar Gali Mulima and Habiba Abubakar of Chibok.
According to preliminary information from the Army, it says that discovered the missing woman while questioning captured Boko Haram militants. She has a six-month-old baby an is undergoing medical investigation before being handed over to the Borno State Government.
Bring Back Our Girls, a campaign group for the release of the Chibok girls, said Gali is the 24th Chibok kidnap victim to be released, out of 219. (Source: Nigeria Television Authority)
Update November 7, 2016:
World Watch Monitor said that a Nigerian Government spokesman, Sani Usman, told media another girl, believed to be one of the nearly 300 Chibok school girls kidnapped by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram in April 2014, was discovered in Pulka in northern Borno State.
Maryam Ali Maiyanga was found by soldiers screening escapees from Boko Haram’s base in the Sambisa forest on Saturday morning (5 Nov). She was carrying a 10-month-old baby boy she named Ali when the soldiers found her.
“She has been taken to the unit’s medical facility for proper medical check-up,” said Usman.
Bring Back our Girls, campaigning for the release of Chibok school girls, stated Maryam was number 198 on its register of the kidnapped girls and comes from Askira Uba, and was abducted along with her twin – who is yet to return.
On October 13, 2016, 21 girls were released by Boko Haram following negotiations with the government. A Christian girl, Amina Ali Nkeki was found on 17 May 17, 2016, in the Sambisa Forest, close to the border with Cameroon. Two days later, Nigeria’s army said it had rescued a second girl, Serah Luka, believed to be the daughter of a pastor, though she was later found to not have been among the Chibok girls.
Update October 24, 2016:
When the 21 girls released by Boko Haram on October 13, 2016, met Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari they thanked him personally for his part in their release. Addressing a crowd at the presidential villa, one of the girls, Rebecca Mallum, burst into song. She later said: “We are happy to see this wonderful day because we didn’t know we would come back to be members of Nigeria. Let us thank God for his love.”
Speaking to CNN, some of the girls said they plan to return to school – Boko Haram translates in the local Hausa language as “Western education is forbidden.”
“On her release one girl revealed more about life in captivity, said a parent who wished to remain anonymous. The parent said that one of the girls had refused to marry a Boko Haram fighter and was told she would be killed. In the end she was given 100 lashes,” said World Watch Monitor.
“The girls have been undergoing intense psychological evaluations at a medical facility in the capital, Abuja.”
Update October 18, 2016:
Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, has spoken about the release of 21 girls and a boy born in captivity to one of their number: “This is only the first step in what we believe will be total liberation and release of all the remaining girls.”
“Already we are on phase two and we are already in discussions,” he said on Sunday, October 16, 2016. “But of course you know these are very delicate negotiations, there are some promises we made also about the confidentiality of the entire exercise and we intend to keep them.”
According to the government’s Senior Special Assistant for Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, a splinter group of Boko Haram is willing to negotiate the release of 83 more girls. CNN reported that the other 114 girls are dead, or, reportedly, don’t want to leave their kidnappers because they are now married or have been radicalized.
World Watch Monitor said that this release is only the second time any of the 219 long-term captives (over 50 girls escaped shortly after being taken) have found freedom. Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, was the first of the 219 to be found alive when she was discovered by vigilantes in the Sambisa Forest. Nkeki revealed that she knew of six of the remaining 218 who had died. If negotiations to release 83 more are successful, that leaves at least 100 girls either still among Boko Haram or unaccounted for.
“There are conflicting reports about the terms of the girls’ release, which was brokered by the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” said the news service.
The government has denied any prisoner exchange, but, according to Associated Press, two military officers have said four detained Boko Haram commanders were freed; AP reports that a Nigerian who negotiated previous failed attempts also said a large ransom was paid by the Swiss government on behalf of Nigerian authorities.
The released girls finally met with their families on Sunday in Abuja after some parents had travelled for days for the emotional reunion.
One of the girls, Gloria Dame, said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death at least once.
Muta Abana, who has been reunited with his daughter, Blessing, said he thought the girls’ abduction had been politicized, complaining that “people’s children aren’t money, people’s children are not clothes you wear to campaign, people’s children are their pride.”
The girls are currently receiving medical attention and trauma counselling in a hospital.
Update October 14, 2016:
Details have now emerged about the conditions of release of the 21 Chibok girls. They were freed before dawn on October 13, 2016, in the north-eastern town of Banki, near the border with Cameroon. They were then transported to the capital, Abuja, where they met the Vice President.
“The whole country has been waiting that one day we will see you again and we are very happy to see you back,” said Yemi Osinbajo.
“The president in particular has asked me to tell you how excited he is. When you were away, he kept saying that if it were his daughter he wouldn’t even know what to do.
“So we are all very excited that you are here. We are all happy that God has preserved your lives and brought you back.”
Presidential aide Garba Shehu said the girls’ release was the “outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.”
World Watch Monitor said that there was speculation that the girls were handed over in exchange for the release of Boko Haram fighters. AFP quoted a local source in saying that four Boko Haram prisoners had been “swapped” for the girls, but the information minister, Lai Mohammed, denied this.
“Please note that this is not a swap. It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides,” he said.
“We have nothing to add,” said a Swiss government official, when asked if it had been a prisoner swap.
The talks with the radical Islamic group will continue, according to the Nigerian government.
Pictures released by local media and a presidency official showed one of the girls holding a baby when they met Vice President Osinbajo. Many of the girls looked frail. Most of the girls were reportedly forcibly converted to Islam and forced into “marriage” by their captors.
How the drama began
The drama began on the night of April 14–15, 2014, when 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Responsibility for the kidnappings was claimed by Boko Haram, an extremist and terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria. 57 of the schoolgirls managed to escape over the next few months and some have described their capture in appearances at international human rights conferences.
Their disappearance eventually generated headlines around the world and fueled a social-media storm, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, which was supported by many including First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Photo captions: 1) A Boko Haram fighter with some of the missing schoolgirls in a video clip. 2) The released 21 Chibok girls met President Buhari – seen here with Vice President Osinbajo – at his villa in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, October 19, 2016. (The Office of the President). 3) Joy and tears as a family reunite with one of the released Chibok schoolgirls, Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 2016. (Segun Adeyemi). 4) The President with the first girl to be released and her baby (Getty Images/ AFP Florian Plaucheur). 5) Dan Wooding just after his birth at Vom Christian Hospital, Nigeria, with his mother, Anne Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria, West Africa, of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. He now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author or co-author of some 45 books. He has a weekly radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California.
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