From Magnus Eze, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Federal Government has said the freed Chibok schoolgirls would not return to their former schools in Chibok, Borno State.
Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Al-Hassan stated this while formally receiving the girls from the director of the Department of State Services (DSS) Medical Centre, Anne Okoroafor, at the National Women Development Centre, Abuja, yesterday.
The Federal Government also clarified that the rescued 106 Chibok schoolgirls were not under compulsion to remain within its care as any of them who wished to join their parents was free to do so.
No fewer than 219 girls were abducted from their school in April 2014. While the government rescued 103, three others were said to have escaped from Boko Haram captivity. At least 113 are still in the hands of the terrorists.
Although, the rescued girls have met their parents under strict government supervision, none of them has returned to live with their parents in Chibok.
The 82 girls, while in the custody of the DSS underwent several medical tests and treatment. Some of the them were said to have had bullet and bomb fragments in their bodies and were made to undergo surgeries.
The girls were warmly received by their other 24 counterparts, who had been in the camp since they regained freedom October last year.
Alhassan explained that the girls who would be camped till September would undergo remedial preparation in five subjects – English Language, Mathematics, Biology, Agricultural Science and Civic Education – after which they would be enrolled in schools in other parts of the country.
The minister also said 20 teachers had been engaged for the girls who would be grouped into four classes.
She reiterated the resolve of government to give the best care to the girls through the Presidential Rehabilitation and Re-integration Committee headed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Alhassan further disclosed that a fully-equipped medical facility has been set up at their camp with two doctors and two nurses, while the National Hospital, Federal Staff Clinic and the DSS Medical Clinic, were open to handle referral cases.
She added that an ambulance would be dedicated to the facility for emergencies.
As part of the comprehensive rehabilitation package, the minister disclosed that each of the girls would receive compulsory training in information and communication technology as well as two other skills of their choice.
“Here, we have 24 girls; remember that these were rescued last year. They are being joined today by 82 others, who have been certified fit to live on their own; they don’t have any medical issues any more apart from the one that we need to put a limb for. This place is their common room; it will accommodate the 106 of them.
“We have more handlers for the girls now; more doctors, nurses and matrons. And the programme will end at the beginning of next academic year in September when we will enrol all of them back to school,” Alhassan stated.
She further explained that the 24 others had missed the 2016/2017 school year because by the time they were ascertained fit by the experts, the academic year had gone far.
Shedding light on the condition of the 82 girls, Dr. Okoroafor who took care of them in the last three weeks, confirmed that they were fit for the programme.
“We have done the needful for them, profiled them and done all the investigations; whatever we found out during the investigation, we have treated them. Some of them require ongoing medical treatment like you can see one of them has problem with her hand; one is an amputee and one or two others who have some medical issues that we are still treating them for. But I can say to you that they are all stable and comfortable for us to release them. They are stable not just medically but psychologically”.
Representative of the Acting President, Mr. Nicholas Audifferen assured that government would stop at nothing to ensure the girls attained whatever heights they could.
The United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which had been partnering the ministry, were represented by Mr. Samuel Manyok (Child Development Specialist) and Mr. Eugene Kongnyuy, respectively.
There were indications that henceforth there will be tight security at the camp.