By Enyeribe Ejiogu, Timothy Ola and Molly
Another of the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School, GSS, Chibok, Borno State in April 2014, is now breathing the air of freedom.
The girl, Maryam Ali Maiyanga, was among those who escaped from Boko Haram in the Sambisa forest and were found yesterday about 6am by troops of the 121 Battalion, Nigerian Army, deployed at Pulka, Gwoza Local Government Area, Borno State, for Operation Lafiya Dole.
In a statement, the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, said that Maiyanga, who was with her 10-month-old son named Ali, fathered by a Boko Haram terrorist, was discovered to be one of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram more than two years ago.
Usman further said that Maiyanga and her son had been taken to the medical facility of the military unit for proper medical check up.
Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima elated by the news commended the military for the rescue of the Chibok girl, saying government was excited about the news.
Receiving Maiyanga with her 10-month-old baby, Shettima said the Nigerian military has again brought smiles to the faces of Borno people and the world who had waited in anticipation of the release or rescue of the over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram.
“The government of Borno feels happy and excited about the development because we are always in the news for this simple reason of Boko Haram madness. The military has again done us proud and we commend them for this effort and other ones before now,” Shettima, who was represented by the state Attorney General, Kaka Shehu Lawan, said.
Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj Gen Lucky Irabor described the rescue of the Girl as another source of joy to the military in its counter-insurgency operation in the northeast. He said Maryam was rescued by troops at Pulkan Gwoza Local Government yesterday morning with her 10 months old baby. He however said preliminary investigations showed that her husband died in one of the previous operations by the military in the area.
The freeing of Maiyanga’s has added one more point on the tally of schoolgirls that have so far regained freedom since the horrible abduction saga began in 2014. Last month, 21 of the abductees were released as part of a negotiated swap between the Federal Government and Boko Haram. Earlier in May this year, another Chibok schoolgirl, Amina Ali Nkeki, escaped with her son with the aid of her Boko Haram husband, who she claimed was also a kidnap victim himself.
Dozens of the girls escaped in the first few hours after their abduction. Boko Haram is believed to be still holding about 190 of the schoolgirls.
The abduction of the schoolgirls prompted global outrage and a sustained international campaign by the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group led by Dr Oby Ezekwesili, and was endorsed by many celebrities including United State First lady, Mrs Michelle Obama.
Following the rescue of Maiyanga, BBOG yesterday commended the Nigerian armed forces for the heartwarming news.
The group in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Sesugh Akume, said that its preliminary investigation confirmed her identity as Number 198 on the group’s list of the 219 abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
“We welcome news of the return of another of our abducted #ChibokGirls. We applaud the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari, the military and other security formations working day and night to rout the terrorists and rescue all Nigerians in captivity,” Akume said.
Prior to her abduction, Maiyanga, a native of Askira Uba, was a school prefect at GSS, Chibok. She was abducted along with her twin sister, Halima Ali, whose name appears at Number 197 on the BBOG List, and is yet to be freed or rescued.