Borno teen was also a refugee in Cameroun like reported latest Chibok schoolgirl rescued
As reports emerge that another Chibok schoolgirl has been rescued from Cameroun after nine years of abduction, a Borno schoolgirl who was a refugee in Cameroun also has just graduated secondary school.
The National Television Authority (NTA) had broken the news of the
First lady welcoming a rescued Chibok girl yesterday August 11, 2023 recovered in Cameroun.
However, today, Sarah Emmanuel a teenager from Gwoza Borno State who has been an IDP since 2014, the same year as the Chibok school abductions, just graduated secondary school in Abuja despite extraordinary odds.
Sarah, her younger sister and mum were among female family members who survived after Boko Haram killed most of the males in the villages of Gwoza. At one point the terrorists released a video of scores of corpses which they bragged were 1000 men they had slaughtered in just one day making it the highest global one day atrocity in years. Boko Haram also declared its caliphate seat in Gwoza and has occupied it till date.
Sarah was besieged on Gwoza mountain for over a year surrounded in the valley beneath by the terrorists and was forced to eat grass, shrubs and drink mud just so they could survive even as others died. She was just eight years old at the time and her sister, six.
At a point they fled to Cameroun as refugees where after waiting for registration in the UN camp for months to no avail, they accepted transportation arranged by Deeper Life Church for those who wanted to go back to Nigeria.
After being dropped off at the Cameroun Nigeria border, Sarah and other returnee refugees trekked in the bushes for hours until a truck that delivered supplies to Boko Haram on its way back had pity on them and gave them a lift.
Alas this was not to be the end of Sarah’s travails as in August 2021, the orphanage where she and her sister found refuge and began their education was completely destroyed by Fulani militia.
Ironically she graduated on the second anniversary of the destruction of that orphanage.
Says international human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe whom the survivor sisters have adopted as their dad over the years, “I find it quite uncanny that just as two years ago another Borno schoolgirl I sponsored to school in USA graduated with her Masters/MBA on the anniversary of the murder of her father pastor Umar Faye from a California university, Sarah is now graduating around the anniversary of her last attack. God has a great sense of humour and the divine timing of her graduation is truly a testament to the fact that His eye is on the sparrow.
That Sarah could come from Cameroun after a couple of years living on mountains, forests, deserts and rivers, coach herself and come first in a class with Jos students who had not gone through what she went through is spectacularly phenomenal.
I have discovered that there are truly untapped diamonds in the rough throughout the north whom the tribulations of terror uncovered. I have no doubt that Sarah will achieve great things given her demonstrated tenacity.”
Speaking at her graduation, Sarah was asked to say her saddest moment in school and answered that when he teacher accused her of not doing her homework, she cried. She said she wants to be a lawyer, her favorite country is America and she wishes more children attended the institution she was graduating from (name withheld for security.) See video of Sarah’s remarkable path to success https://fb.watch/aP9JmNwp-j/
“I am thankful to my cousin and his friend who through Facebook connected me to the benevolent proprietor who graciously gave scholarships to several orphans from the orphanage in Jos to go to an exclusive school in the nation’s capital. That a girl who lost her country after fleeing a mountain could come to the nation’s capital and finish her education through the kindness of strangers despite total state failure gives me hope in the people of this country.”
Per news reports, “The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,Senator Oluremi Tinubu CON on Friday at the presidential villa, Abuja, received Rebecca Kabu, one of the 277 Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014.
Senator OluRemi Tinubu while assuring that the remaining girls in captivity are not forgotten, appreciated the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and other security agencies and those who were involved in Rebecca’s rescue.
“Our dear daughter, Rebecca, I welcome you, I’ve been praying for you all night, it is well with you, what has happened to her is much trauma;words are inadequate for me to describe it.
“Cases of amnesia should be treated; it is difficult to get by, but since you are still here, God has plans for you. I thank the office of the NSA and NIA for not relenting and everyone that is assisting in her rehabilitation.
“Rebecca will be our first comeback story and returnee, she is our first fruit; she is a case I am quite interested in to see that she can go back to school at her own pace.’’
“We pray and continue to pray that all our children that are still with Boko Haram will come back home, we are waiting in earnest, we have not given up hope, I am sure that by the time she is reunited with her parents, she will be glad.
“With the governor waiting for her, she is in good hands,’’ the first lady said.
Earlier, Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, NSA, said Rebecca, kidnapped at age 13 in 2014 and now 22 years old, was rescued by the government security agencies on July 17.
He said the returnee has been certified medically and mentally fit to be reunited with her parents in Zana village in Borno state.
He said subsequently, the NSA office would follow up and present her case alongside the 15 other rehabilitated girls that were also rescued for Federal Government education support.
“I’m here to present to you one of those our young ones that were kidnapped in 2014, we are lucky to have one of them back in our midst. Rebecca was kidnapped and abducted from her school in Chibok in 2014 by late Shekarau-led (sic) Boko Haram.
“She was rescued and repatriated from Cameroon on July 17, and has completed intensive medical screening and physiological evaluation over the past two weeks by a team of medical and psychological experts between the office of NSA and the National Intelligent Agency.
“Rebecca has been found to be in good health and is psychologically stable; the next step is to hand her over to the Borno state Governor for onward reuniting with her family in Zana.” “
Responding to this development, Barrister Ogebe said, “It is always heartening to hear of a recovery of one of the stolen Chibok girls especially after nine years and four months of the world’s longest-running school mass abduction.
I note however that with regard to her reported age, the math isn’t mathing. If she’s 22 years now and was 13 nine years ago when the abduction happened, it is inconceivable that she was sitting for her final secondary exams then.
I sat for my WAEC at age 14 which was record-setting in itself but is extremely improbable in a remote setting like Chibok.
I hope this not another age anachronism associated with the Tinubus but a clerical error because we know who the youngest Chibok schoolgirl was. Dorcas Maida Yakubu who remains among the 80+ still missing was the putative youngest missing student.
It would be helpful for the NSA to provide her number on the official list of documented abducted schoolgirls as the army has previously done for ease of authentication.
Secondly, the report says 15 other girls have been rehabilitated and are awaiting education support.
It should similarly be clarified if they are all rescued Chibok girls or otherwise.
While I appreciate the tender and motherly manner in which Senator Mrs Remi Tinubu received Rebecca, I must reemphasise that immediate family reunification is the best post-captivity therapy. It is disconcerting that about a month after Rebecca’s rescue, she’s yet to meet her family.
With the greatest respect, Rebecca does not know who or what is the president of Nigeria. First and foremost, she should have been linked up with her native Kibaku language speakers of whom there’s a significant population in Abuja to welcome her prior to the arrival of her parents.
As someone marking the 27th anniversary of my release from Gen Abacha’s captivity this week, I know the importance of returning to the familiar and familial.
Rebecca was not dreaming of returning to the capital or the presidency but to her family and community.
Finally I want to take this opportunity to call on the new Kano State government whose predecessor has held 17 innocent Christian orphans captive since Christmas 2019, despite the dismissal of the false charges leveled against the Du Merci orphanage Director, Prof Solomon Tarfa, to release the children from ruinous captivity immediately.