We were without food for 40 days, say released students

HOPE of actualising the release of the remaining abducted Chibok girls was raised yesterday when Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed expressed optimism that a bigger batch of
Chibok girls will soon be released. Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a special thanksgiving service for the 21 released Chibok girls, the minister said “reckless analysts and commentators” were not helping the situation for the other girls

still in the captivity. Mohammed said those who doubted the Buhari’s administration to ensure the safe release and the reunion of the abducted Chibok girls with their parents were disappointed. He therefore warned analysts and commentators to be careful of the comments they make so that the release of the remaining girls will not be jeopardised. “They are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity. Therefore we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible,” he said. “When the President said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us so we thank God this day has come.” While appealing to the other parents whose children have not been released, Mohammed said: “This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch bigger than this will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are ongoing even as we speak.” Also speaking, Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the parents of the abducted Chibok girls, dismissed reports alleging that 18 of the 21 freed girls were pregnant. He thanked the president for summoning the courage and the political will that eventually led to the release of the abducted girls, and appealed to the general populace to stop spreading rumours, particularly on the social media, that would put the lives of the other girls at risk. Shiktra Kwali, who delivered the sermon at the thanksgiving service, told the girls that as they start a new life in freedom, they should not allow the experience of the past to weigh them down. He urged them to remain steadfast in serving the Lord, who has not forsaken them even in captivity. The ceremony ended with an identification parade, as each of the freed girls identified her parents who in turn made brief comments, with many of them applauding Buhari for ensuring the safe release of the girls. We were without food for 40 days One of the released girls, Gloria Dame revealed that the abductees were, at a time, without food for a total of one month and 10 days. Dame made this revelation on Sunday while giving a testimony on behalf of her colleagues at a thanksgiving service organised for them at the health facility of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja. “I did not know that a day like this will come that we will be dancing and giving thanks to God among people,” she said in Hausa. “For one month and 10 days, we stayed without food. I narrowly escaped bomb blast in the forest. “We are praying to God to touch the heart of Boko Haram to repent and we are calling on Nigerians to pray and fast for the release of our remaining ones in captivity.” The service was in progress when parents of the freed girls arrived the venue, and they were reunited with their loved ones after more than two years of their abduction. With the arrival of the parents, the environment was charged with emotion and tears of joy. The parents took turns to address the congregation and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians for their efforts and prayers towards the rescue of their daughters. Yaga Yarakawa, chairman of Chibok local government council, described the release of the girls as “historic”, saying: “Before their abduction, I was involved in supervising their feeding, which was organised by the Borno State Secondary Schools Feeding System. So I know them very well. “These are the real girls and you could see when their parents came; you see their joy, it manifest naturally. “This is enough to tell you that it is a reality and anybody who says different things or is doubting, maybe the person has a different agenda altogether.” He appealed to the government to put all necessary machinery in place to ensure the release of the other girls. Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of Abducted Chibok Girls’ Parents Association, thanked the president for the release of the girls. “From the physical looks of the girls, it was obvious that they were not radicalised as claimed by some people,” he said, and also debunked claims that many of the girls were pregnant. The service was attended by Lai Mohammed, minister of information and cultur, and Aisha Alhassan, minister of women affairs.

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