The Federal Government has disclosed that some of the recently released 82 Chibok girls would need surgery for various ailments.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Jummai Alhassan, stated that the girls were undergoing treatment which would take a few weeks to complete.
More than three years ago, about 276 schoolgirls were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram militants. Twenty-one of the girls were released in October 2016, while 82 were released last week.
According to the minister, results of the medical tests so far conducted on the 82 Chibok girls had shown that some of them needed to be operated upon, adding that the medical screening, being carried out on the girls, would be completed between two and three weeks.
Alhassan added that once the 82 girls completed their medical treatment, they would undergo the rehabilitation and integration processes which the 21 initially rescued girls were undergoing. She disclosed that the committee on the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Chibok girls would be headed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The minister also said one of the 21 girls had asked for permission to visit her family and had been allowed to go and expected back in two weeks.
On the 21 girls previously released in October last year, Alhassan disclosed that the girls came back in bad shape and spent almost two months under medical care and were handed over to her on December 22, 2016. Moreover, before the arrival of the 82 girls, the Federal Government had been taking care of the 21 girls and four babies.
While denying reports that parents of the released Chibok girls were not allowed to see them, Alhassan explained that the parents of the 21 girls were reunited with their daughters within one week of their return in October 2016.
“Upon return, all the 21 Chibok girls said they wanted to go back to school, but that they didn’t want to go to school in Chibok,” she said.
According to her, the girls travelled to Chibok for Christmas in December 2016 as soon as they emerged from medical care and spent two weeks there. Although they were scheduled to travel to Chibok again for Easter, Alhassan said the security situation at that time was not conducive enough, so their parents were invited to Abuja. She added that it was the choice of the Chibok girls and their parents to stay under the care of the Federal Government in Abuja.
Stating that the girls were scared of going back to Chibok, the minister clarified that the girls were not stopped from communicating with their parents.
Alhassan said those spreading rumours that the parents of the 82 rescued girls are being denied access to their daughters are not the actual parents of the girls but rather representatives of Chibok community, who feel they must have access to the girls. She said:
“We had a meeting with the parents of the 21 girls and the girls themselves and they all asked the Federal Government to send them to school and take care of them. Most of them are scared of returning to Chibok because of their experiences.
“But to show you that parents have access to their daughters, some parents just left the facility where the girls were being kept three weeks ago after visiting. One of the girls, who is married, is at present in Chibok, visiting the town with her husband and his family”.
The minister also disclosed that the 82 recently released girls’ photographs had been sent to their families in Chibok for identification, adding that arrangements were already being made to transport the actual parents of the girls to Abuja once they identify their daughters among the pictures of the girls sent to Chibok through the chairman of the community.
“The parents and the 82 girls will soon unite in a couple of days, but it will have to be well planned. It is not going to be easy to transport all 82 parents. That is 164 persons. Transportation and security have to be provided because the number is quite large, and you all know how sensitive Borno State is at the moment,” Alhassan stated.
The Minister also reiterated government’s commitment to ensure the release of the remaining 113 schoolgirls still with the terrorists through negotiations or exchanging the girls with detained Boko Haram members.
“Negotiations are ongoing to exchange the remaining girls with Boko Haram detainees, we can’t afford to keep them any longer.
“We have no apologies or regrets whatsoever for exchanging Boko Haram detainees for our daughters. We’ll do it again if needed,” Alhassan said.
According to Alhassan, the 21 girls who were released in October 2016, have been reunited with the 82 girls. She said:
“On Wednesday, we took the first set of 21 girls to visit the 82 girls at the medical facilities where the 82 girls are being treated to reassure them that all is well.”