By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
…Approves N165m for school fees of 106 released girls
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has renewed the commitment of his administration to ensure the release of the remaining abducted Chibok Girls by Boko Haram terrorists.
President Buhari according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja, Sunday, expressed appreciation of the progress made in the rehabilitation the 106 of those freed now back in school and promised to use every means possible to bring back all the girls held by terrorists.
The President, who was reviewing the progress report submitted to him in line with his commitment to personally monitor the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of the freed Chibok girls, also gave assurances that government would provide full support for their education.
In line with the promise, the President approved payment of N164,763,759 for the second semester school fees of the 106 Chibok girls at the American University of Nigeria, AUN in Yola.
According to the progress report received by the President, the decision to pursue other optionsin addition to military action to free the abducted girls was in the resolve to protect the lives of all Nigerians, to end the insurgency in the northeast of the country, and to fulfil one of his campaign promises.
In line with this, the Federal Government entered into negotiations with the Boko Haram Terrorist group for the release of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped from their school on the night of April 14, 2014.
The statement said: “So far, two batches of 21 and 82 girls have been freed as a result of those negotiations. Three additional girls were rescued by the gallant efforts of our armed forces, bringing the total number of freed Chibok girls so far to 106. As a result of their experiences while in captivity, the freed girls were severely traumatised and afflicted by various ailments and injuries. Hence, they were taken to secure medical centres for attention.
“They also went through debriefing and de-radicalisation by security operatives, after which the girls were handed over to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. The Federal Ministry of Womens Affairs and Social Development was assigned the main role in supervising the rehabilitation and reintegration of the girls back into society.
Long before the girls were released, the Federal Government had established the ‘Chibok Girls Desk’ in the ministry, responsible for acting on matters relating to the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, and serving as a channel of communication between relevant agencies and the parents and relatives of the abducted girls.
“The government, through the ministry of women affairs and in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities,UNFPA, UN Women, and other donor agencies, embarked on programmes earmarked to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Chibok girls with a nine-month time frame.
“A hostel in the National Centre for Women Development was converted into a suitable shelter, where the girls were kept for the nine-month period. The programme, which began in January 2017, ended in September 2017.