FG asks 106 Chibok girls to spend one week with families

The recently-released Chibok schoolgirls when they were handed over by the Department of State Services to the Ministry of Women Affairs in Abuja.

The Federal Government on Friday gave 106 Chibok girls permission to travel to Chibok, Borno State, to spend one week with their families.

The girls had been released by the Boko Haram sect on May 7, 2017, seven months after 21 girls were released in October 2016.

During a press briefing on the update of the girls’ situation in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Jummai Alhassan, appealed to Nigerians to avoid making the 106 released Chibok girls to recount the ordeal they suffered while in the captivity of the Boko Haram insurgents.

Alhassan said any request to the girls to recount their experiences in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists could reopen old wounds and create a setback to the process of their emotional recovery.

The minister said the girls had been able to overcome most of the challenges that they were having such as flashbacks, insomnia and nightmares.

She added that the initial fear the girls had about going back to school and continuing their education had been overcome.

According to her, the 106 girls will be returning to their respective communities in Chibok every holiday just like every other pupil in the country.

She said, “The girls have been provided psycho-social support services to help erase unpleasant memories and override their traumatic experiences. So far, they are now stabilised and most of their traumatic stress disorder symptoms have been overcome and previous frequent incidents of flashbacks, insomnia and nightmares have now been successfully brought under control.

“Through rigorous and extensive time with social workers, counsellors and psychologists, the girls are now looking forward to a bright and promising future.

“I will like to appeal to the press and the general public to avoid making requests for these girls to recount their stories and experiences while in captivity so as not to reopen old wounds and trigger a relapse in their journey to recovery.

“The girls are not kept in isolation, they are going to the university, they are not going to be kept in isolation and to answer your question, the girls will never come back to Abuja again. As for these 106 girls, when school closes, they would go back to their homes.

“So, they are not kept in isolation, and they will return to their homes and that is why we said that they are now ready for full integration into the society. From school, they are going back home on holidays just like any other child.”

When asked why all the 106 girls were being confined to a single school in the North-East, Alhassan said that the American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State, was the only institution with the foundation programme required for the girls.

She added that some of the over 50 girls who escaped were taken to private schools in Jos and Zaria but the schools were said to have told the government when contacted that they did not have the capacity for such a large number of girls.

Alhassan stated further that while so many girls had been recovered by the security forces, the Federal Government decided to give a special treatment to the case of the Chibok girls because they were taken away while in custody of the government.

She also stressed that the negotiation for the release of the rest of the Chibok girls still in custody had not been suspended.

“Negotiations are still continuing. That is why you heard me calling earlier on the captives to agree on whatever terms they agreed on to release the rest of the girls. Negotiations are still ongoing,” she added.

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