Freed Chibok Girl Meets with Nigeria’s President
The first Chibok teenager to escape from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold was flown to Abuja on Thursday and met with Nigeria’s president, even as her freedom adds pressure on the government to do more to rescue the 218 other missing girls.
Some already have died in captivity while the others are held under heavy guard in the forest, the escapee has revealed, according to the family doctor.
The 19-year-old, who was 17 when she was kidnapped, was shielded from journalists when she arrived at the presidential villa, with her mother carrying her 4 month-old baby. The group was shown into President Muhammadu Buhari’s office for a private meeting that lasted an hour.
The BBC identified her as Amina Ali Nkeki and said she comes from the town of Mbalala, about six miles from Chibok. Journalist Samson Aboku, who is from Mbalala, told the BBC that it is a mostly Christian area of approximately 30,000 people, but Amina is Muslim. Aboku said she was raised by her widowed mother, who had 13 children, but only Nkeki and her older brother survived.
Television cameras and photographers were allowed in briefly afterward to register images of the woman with Buhari.
“I am delighted at the news that … one of the missing Chibok girls has regained her freedom,” the president said in a statement. “But my feelings are tinged with deep sadness at the horrors the young girl has had to go through at such an early stage in her life.”
He said medical personnel and trauma experts had examined her for five hours on Wednesday and promised that she would get the best medical care and education that the government can offer.
But aid workers said the young woman should be getting immediate care instead of making public appearances.
“It is an outrage!” said Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, women and girls’ advocate at Refugees International, saying the escapee’s case should not be politicized.
The Bring Back Our Girls movement called a rally Thursday evening to celebrate. The movement, which inspired a worldwide social media campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls that reached to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, has met faithfully every week at Abuja’s Unity Fountain to demand the government act more aggressively to rescue the girls.
In his statement, Buhari repeated promises his administration will do all it can to bring the girls home.
Joy and renewed hope have met the discovery Tuesday of the Nkeki, though she appears too traumatized to understand her central role in the tragedy that captured worldwide attention and shone a spotlight on the violent methods of Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremists.
Nigerian hunters found her wandering on the fringes of the remote northeastern forest and reunited her with her mother, family doctor Idriss Danladi said after speaking with the mother.
Nigeria’s military claimed it had rescued the young woman, though its initial statement identified the escapee as another Chibok girl who is still missing.