The recent release of 82 Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram sect following negotiations between it and the Nigerian government is worthy of commendation. It demonstrates government’s great concern and commitment to the rescue of the abducted girls. While receiving the girls in Aso Rock Villa, an elated President Muhammadu Buhari described their release as his administration’s second anniversary gift to Nigerians. We cannot agree more with the president.
The Federal Government also commended the security agencies, the Red Cross, local authorities, local and foreign Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and all those who contributed in diverse ways to secure the release of the schoolgirls. Government assured Nigerians that it is committed to the rehabilitation and education of the girls as well as ensure that their parents have access to them as soon as possible.
It also said that it would ensure the rescue of the remaining schoolgirls still with the Boko Haram sect. We recall that out of the 276 girls kidnapped by the sect in the night of April 14, 2014 from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, 57 escaped while being taken away. Three others were later rescued by the military while another batch of 21 was freed on October 13, 2016 after the Swiss government and the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) brokered a deal between the insurgents and the government.
More than 100 girls are still in Boko Haram’s captivity. It was also reported that some of the schoolgirls abducted by the sect refused to be part of the group of 82 girls freed at the weekend.
We applaud the Federal Government and the negotiators who facilitated the release of the 82 Chibok girls and urge the government to do more to ensure that the remaining girls regain their freedom. The government and the negotiators should not relent until all the abducted girls are freed. We also rejoice with the families of the girls and the entire Chibok community.
Without doubt, the release of the girls accords with the promise of President Buhari to work for the release of the schoolgirls. We advise that whatever method was used to secure the release of these girls should be applied to ensure the release of the ones still in captivity.
The government should also work towards ending the insurgency and the suicide bombings. Government must aim at ensuring security in the troubled North-East region. This should be paramount in the discussions with the group. The insurgency should end so that Nigeria can forge ahead and permanently close that dark chapter in its socio-political history.
Before the released schoolgirls rejoin their families, the government must ensure that they undergo months of psychotherapy, as well as spiritual and physical rehabilitation and reconditioning. Government must take care of their welfare and education until they are capable of adapting to normal social life.
While the girls are undergoing the rehabilitation process, government should allow their parents to have access to them. Doing so will aid the rehabilitation and healing process.