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21.08.2021 stories TIMELINE: How 108 Chibok Girls Returned in Seven Years

Published 21st Aug, 2021

By Mariam Hamzat

On April 14, 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. The girls were in school for one of their final exams when they were attacked and carted away.

The incident caused a national uproar as Nigerians protested and demanded their immediate return, using the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag.

Of the 276 girls, 57 escaped by jumping off the lorries conveying them. The militant group went away with 219 students. While many of them have remained with the terrorists since then, some others have escaped along the line. The latest escapee of them, Hassana Adamu, returned exactly a week ago with not one but two children! So who are the others to have returned from captivity and how did it happen?

RETURN OF THE GIRLS

Mary Katmbi sneaked out of the terrorists’ camp in 2014 and trudged through the forest to her village. On May 19, 2016, Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki also returned from the kidnappers’ den. She was found with a child by an army-backed vigilante group in Sambisa Forest. Five months later, 21 girls were released to the Nigerian government after negotiations. They were identified as Mary Usman Bulama, Jummai John, Blessing Abana, Lugwa Sanda, Comfort Habila, Maryam Basheer, Comfort Amos, Glory Mainta, Saratu Emannuel, Deborah Ja’afaru, Rahab Ibrahim, Helen Musa, Maryamu Lawan, Rebecca Ibrahim, Asabe Goni, Deborah Andrawus, Agnes Gapani, Saratu Markus, Glory Dama, Pindah Nuhu and Rebecca Mallam.

A Chibok girl was found by the Nigerian Army with a six-month-old baby on January 5, 2017, and not long after, 82 girls were also released following negotiations with Boko Haram. Five arrested Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the girls on May 7, 2017. Nglari Apagu returned with her husband, a Boko Haram fighter, and two children on August 7, 2021.

On July 28, Ruth Ngladar came back with a repentant Boko Haram commander identified as her husband. The commander was among hundreds of Boko Haram terrorists that surrendered to the Nigerian military recently.

Finally, Hassana Adamu returned with two children on Saturday. She was received in Gwoza, Borno State, by Brigadier General DR Dantani, Commander, 26 Taskforce Brigade, and handed over to Babagana Umara Zulum, the Governor of the state.

There have been reports from survivors that some of the girls are dead. There are also rumours that over 100 are still in captivity.

Oby Ezekwesili, the co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, recently said, “Nothing prepared me for the fact that years would follow years before the first Chibok girl was found and many more years before the total of 107 of them were rescued.”

LIFE AFTER ESCAPE

Seven years after the kidnap of the Chibok girls, some of them are back to living a normal life and have been reintegrated into society. Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among the girls kidnapped in 2014. On April 30, the two ex-students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, graduated from Southeastern University, United States.

Bishara graduated with a degree in social work while Pogu got her degree in legal studies. Pogu plans to pursue her master’s degree in human services and then proceed to law school. She said she had previously given up on education after the kidnap but was contacted and given a scholarship by the US Embassy.

Katambi, who escaped in 2014, graduated from the American University of Nigeria (AUN) with a degree in accounting.

Published 21st Aug, 2021

By Mariam Hamzat

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