By Lanre Ola
MAIDUGURI – A Nigerian schoolgirl rescued more than two years after being taken captive by Boko Haram militants will meet President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday amid hopes she can help shed light on the whereabouts of more than 200 other missing girls.
The girl, named by activists as Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, was accompanied by her mother, Binta, and the provincial governor as she was driven in a military convoy to the airport in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s war-scarred northeast.
Soldiers working with a civilian vigilante group rescued Amina on Tuesday near Damboa, south of Maiduguri. Officials confirmed she was one of 219 girls abducted from the government school in Chibok in April 2014.
She was found with her four-month-old baby, while a “suspected Boko Haram terrorist” called Mohammed Hayatu who said he was Amina’s husband, was also detained, the army said.
Amina’s rescue should give a boost to Buhari, a former military ruler who made crushing the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency a pillar of his presidential campaign in 2015.
However, an assertion from activist group #Bringbackourgirls that the remining abductees were under heavy Boko Haram guard in the Sambisa forest, the jihadists’ final stronghold, will put pressure on him to send in rescue squads.
Boko Haram captured 276 girls in their night-time raid on Chibok, one of the most audacious assaults of a seven-year-old insurgency to set up an Islamic state in the north.
More than 15,000 people have been killed and 2 million displaced in Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of the remaining 219 accused then-President Goodluck Jonathan of not doing enough to find their daughters, whose disappearance led to a global campaign #bringbackourgirls.
Amina’s mother last year spoke of her daughter’s fear of Boko Haram but of her enjoyment of attending school and doing well at her studies.
She told the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, a Nigerian non-profit organisation researching a book on the Chibok girls, that she was not sure of the age of Amina, the youngest of her 13 children although only three survived their early years.
“She always sewed her own clothes,” her mother said in the interview released to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by Aisha Oyebode of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation.
Binta said Amina’s father died some months after his daughter was abducted.
“After Amina was kidnapped, only two (of our children) are left alive,” she said, adding her son and daughter live in Lagos.
She said she constantly thought of her lost daughter, who had always helped her around the house.
“(My son) said I should take it easy and stop crying,” she told the Foundation. “He reminded me that I am not the only parent who lost a child.”(Reuters)