One of the missing Chibok girls that were kidnapped two years ago has been rescued, the first of more than 200 girls seized in a raid on their school in Chibok town.
Soldiers working together with a civilian vigilante group rescued Amina Ali Nkeki together with her four-month-old baby on Tuesday in the Sambisa Forest- in the northeastern state of Borno—a known base for Boko Haram operations. Officials said that they also detained a “"suspected Boko Haram terrorist" called Mohammed Hayatu who claimed to be the girl's husband.
"Preliminary investigation shows that she is indeed one of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on 14th April 2014 in Chibok," Usman said in a statement.
Nkeki’s identity was later confirmed by her parents when she was taken home to meet them. The girl told a vigilante who knew her that most of the girls were still in the custody of Boko Haram in the forest, but that six of the 219 originally abducted had died in captivity.
The April 2014 kidnap incident attracted global attention with global leaders and celebrities joining #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Since then, there have been speculations about the whereabouts of the girls with some claims suggesting that the girls had been sold off to other militia groups or married off to Boko Haram fighters.
The girl who is said to have been breastfeeding a child is a confirmation that the militia followed through with their threat to marry off the girls, as announced by their leader Abubakar Shekau’s threat to “marry them off”.
A campaigner, Tsambido Hosea Abana, Chairman of Chibok community in Abuja told BBC the girl was rescued as she collected firewood in the forest and expressed hope that more abductees could be recovered.
Nkeki is set to meet President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital, Abuja, on Thursday, according to his spokesman. He added that she would be accompanied by the governor of Borno, the northeastern state in which Chibok is located.
According to Mr Buhari's spokesman, the young woman would be helped to reintegrate into society.
The government has previously been criticized for laxity in handling the matter. The government had indicated an interest in negotiating with the outlawed sect to secure the release of the girls. It was reported that the group demanded a $50 million ransom for the release. In March, the group released a video as ‘proof of life’. The video showed some selected girls speaking of their experience in the hands of their abductors, as a means to facilitate a negotiation.
Nigerian government has been recording great strides in an effort to defeat Boko Haram and have in the past rescued abducted women and girls.
This new development may give a boost to Buhari’s leadership as he vowed to crush the Islamist militant group in his election campaign in 2015.
Boko Haram has increasingly been using child bombers in their recent attacks. The insurgency has left more than 15,000 people dead since its wake seven years ago, and displaced more than 2 million.
Image credit: AFP