Governor: girls to be back in schools in Lagos, Abuja
•25 parents, three pupils undergoing therapy
The Borno state government unveiled yesterday its plan to relocate the abducted Chibok schoolgirls to otherschools in Zaria, Abuja or Lagos to complete their secondary education and remove them from the stigma of the abduction.
It also said American counseling experts on “trauma and counseling” will be invited to Maiduguri for the 57 schoolgirls, who escaped from custody as the parents do not want to part away with their children and wards, during the counseling sessions.
Many of the schoolgirls who were at the Government House, Maiduguri declined to speak to reporters. Their parent also kept sealed lips.
Governor Kashim Shettima spoke yesterday after a meeting with the parents, Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Mr. Bana Lawan; and the schoolgirls. There were 32 parents and 27 schoolgirls at the meeting.
The governor said: “The abduction of Chibok schoolgirls by the Boko Haram gunmen, does not only affect parents here present in this Council Chamber, but all of us, including my humble self and other stakeholders of Borno state. I have daughters too; and as a leader, people’s lives and property must be protected, including the rehabilitation of traumatized girls and their parents.
These girls have no any other place to go.
“We have also no plans to politicize the abduction of over 200 innocent schoolgirls from their school on April 14, 2014 by suspected Boko Haram gunmen.”
Shettima added: “If any person that doubts the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls; let him or her go to the affected town and meet the parents.
“We are taking these girls here in this council chamber to a school in either Zaria, or Abuja or Lagos, but we will not disclose the name of the Secondary Schools in which they will complete their secondary education, as it has been interrupted by their abductions since last April.”
He added that each of the girls complete the secondary education at the cost of N1.5 million.
“Parents of abducted schoolgirls; are also to be consoled and sympathised, until the remaining schoolgirls held hostage, are rescued by the military and other security agencies. I will travel to Chibok to condole with the affected parents to sympathise with them, before their children and wards are rescued.”
He also directed the council chairman to meet all the affected parents in Chibok and condole with them. He gave undisclosed amount of cash to the parent.
The Chibok Council Chair said they were at the Government House on the instance of the governor, but only 27 students and 32 parents could come.
He added that some of the pupils and parent had relocated by their parents to their relations outside the state.
No fewer than 25 mothers of the schoolgirls abducted by insurgents from Chibok, Borno State are currently receiving intensive therapy in an undisclosed location in Lagos.
Also with them are three of the girls who escaped from Sambisa forest following the abduction of over 200 girls from the Government Day Secondary School in Chibok.
The girls and mothers are in Lagos courtesy of three non-governmental organisations led by Omoluabi Network. The two others are: Chibok-based Gabassawa Women and the Unlikely Heroes, based in Los Angeles, California. They arrived in Lagos on Saturday.
The founder of Omoluabi Network, Pastor Ladi Thompson, said his group, in collaboration with the others, decided to take up the responsibility of caring for the girls and their families because the culture of caring is alien to many Nigerians. He said the proper thing to do now is to have extensive therapy for the victims to aid their recovery from the shock and the pains of the abduction, but which has not been done by the Nigerian government.
Thompson also said the three organisations had started a campaign called, “Care For Our Girls,” which will focus on bringing the girls and their parents back to the pre-abduction mental, psychological and physical state of being.
The Nation gathered that the mothers and girls were released to undergo the intensive care by their fathers and husbands.
“These women you see here are brave. It was very hard to bring them to Lagos; they had faced several dangers on the road, but because they have faith they are here, the experts have made us to understand that caring is the solution and we have to learn that in Nigeria,” Thompson said.
He also said part of the reasons for bringing the women and girls is to prove that there was indeed the girls were abducted.
It was authoritatively gathered that when the women arrived in Lagos, they were in terrible physical and mental shape with many of them crying uncontrollable and others physically sick. According to Erica Greve, a trauma therapist and coordinator of Unlikely Heroes, the victims are in terrible need of physical and mental therapy.
“We must realise the severity of the trauma the women, girls and the community are going through. When they arrived here for treatment, you could see the grief on their faces; they have risked their lives to come here for treatment,” she said.
The trauma counsellor also disclosed that the women were given immediate medical care, with comprehensive tests conducted on them,while their immediate medical and physical needs met.
The Nation also gathered that the three girls who escaped from the insurgents’ enclave had been subjected to series of medical test and the result is expected tomorrow. It was also gathered that the health of many of the women have deteriorated and some of them have been experiencing fainting spells.
“From a clinical standpoint, both women and children are experiencing shock, with many of them in denial. Many of them are experiencing physical symptoms too, and our goal is to help relieve them of the stress and help them deal with the loss,” Erica said.
Thompson also called on the government and other nongovernmental organisations to step up the campaign to care for the people of Chibok. He said access must be given to trauma counsellors to have access to the families, saying there is need for the parents to undergo therapy and the children too.
“Care for our girls must start with care for their mothers. The girls will be released and when they arrive, they must not be thrown back into the society just like that. They must be debriefed and taken proper care of in a safe location to enable them reintegrate into the society. Also, Chibok must not be left alone; we must help the community get back to its feet and defeat this terror,” he said.
Kucheli Balami, founder of Gabassawa Women, thanked the Omoluabi Network for coming to the aid of the mothers, noting that it had been a traumatic experience for her. “Since the abduction, I have not been able to eat or sleep properly, it has been hard, but we are trusting God that our girls will come back,” she said.
She also revealed that the women were suffering emotional trauma. “These women are suffering, we were preaching that the girls should go to school and when they did, it is a different story.”
Also throwing another permutation into the case, Ibrahim Bangalu who has worked extensively in Chibok revealed that the community is praying for members of Boko Haram. “I want us to continue to pray for members of Boko Haram because they are our children who are being used by the devil for negative things. The Bible teaches we should pray and when we say God should bless Boko Haram it is to change their hearts. When that happens, all Nigerians will be happy so I therefore bring a message of hope,” Bangalu said.
Another resident of Chibok who was present at the event, Philip Madu said the community which is predominantly Christian has lived peacefully with the Muslims. “ I can clearly say that 95 percent of Chibok is Christian but we have lived peacefully with our Muslim brothers without any discrimination. On my wedding day, my best man is a Muslim and we are still good friends. Everybody is accepted irrespective of your religion in Chibok, we are still united even now in our grieve, “Madu said.
He denied that Boko Haram targeted Chibok because it’s a Christian community, “They targeted a school and some of the victims are also Muslims, religion is not discrimination in Chibok.”
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