Rescued Chibok girls recount 912 days ordeal as they reunite with parents

Emotions hit the toll on Sunday in Abuja when the 21 Chibok girls, who were released by Boko Haram militants on Thursday, reunited with their parents at a thanksgiving service.

Parents and a few invited guests shed tears as the few lucky girls, who were among the over 200 schoolgirls of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, kidnapped on April 14, 2014, locked themselves in warm embrace.

The thanksgiving service held at the Department of State Services health facility, located along the Airport Road, Abuja, to mark the release of the girls.

The guests and the parents cried the more when the 21 girls claimed that they were not fed for “one month and 10 days’’ while they were in the bush.

Gloria Dame, one of the rescued girls, who spoke while giving testimony on behalf of her colleagues, said they survived through divine intervention.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Jummai Alhassan, who attended the service, wiped their faces several times while listening to Gloria.

The girl, who spoke in Hausa language, said, “I did not know that a day like this will come that we will be dancing and giving thanks to God among people.

“For one month and 10 days, we stayed without food. I narrowly escaped a bomb blast in the forest.

“We are praying to God to touch the heart of Boko Haram to repent and we are calling on Nigerians to pray and fast for the release of our remaining ones in captivity.”

The parents of the freed girls arrived at the venue while the service was ongoing.

Their arrival changed the atmosphere in the service with many parents rolling on the floor as soon as they sighted their children, who they have not seen for about two and a half years.

Some parents bust into uncontrollable tears.

One after the other, the parents took turn to address the congregation and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians for their efforts and prayers towards the rescue of their daughters.

The Chairman of the Chibok Local Government Council, Mr. Yaga Yarakawa, said the release of the girls was “historic’’ and the Chibok community at home and in the Diaspora was happy about the development.

Yarakawa said contrary to the views of some Nigerians, the 21 freed girls were the actual Chibok Secondary School girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

He said, “Before their abduction, I was involved in supervising their feeding which was organised by the Borno State Secondary Schools Feeding System. So, I know them very well.

“These are the real girls and you can see when their parents came, you see their joy, it manifests naturally.

“This is enough to tell you that it is a reality and anybody, who says different things or doubting, may be the person has a different agenda altogether.”

He appealed to the government to put all necessary machinery in place to ensure the release of the other girls.

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