President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured that Amina Ali, the rescued Chibok Schoolgirl, must return to school, saying no girl-child should be forced into what he called “the brutality of forced marriage”.
He said this when he received Amina, her baby, her mother and her sister led by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shetima.
Amina, who was covered in veil, arrived the fore court of the Presidential Villa at exactly 2:40pm in company with her four-month-old baby, Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, her relations, Adiza Bala Usman and other officials of the #BringBackOurGirls movement.
The meeting lasted about two hours.
The President, who said he was delighted that Amina has regained her freedom, said he was sad at the horrors she had to go through so early in her life.
The President vowed that though nothing can be done to reverse the horrors of her past, the federal government will do everything possible to ensure that the rest of her life take a completely different course.
According to him, Amina’s rescue gives new hope and offers a unique opportunity to vital information, assuring that his administration will continue to do what it can to rescue the Chibok girls who are still in Boko Haram’s captivity.
He said, “Like others all over the world, I’m delighted that Amina Ali one of the missing Chibok girls has regained her freedom. But my feelings are stinged with deep sadness and horrors the youngg girl has had to go through at such an early stage in her life.
“Although we cannot do anything to reverse the horrors of her past, the federal government can and will do everything possible to ensure that the rest of her life takes a completely different course.
“Amina will get the best care that the Nigerian government can afford, we will ensure that she gets the best medical, emotional and whatever care that she requires to get full recovery and be integrated into the society.
“Yesterday, medical personnel from government and other NGOs examine her for a total of about five hours, trauma experts from UNICEF also met her, the federal government will assist the Murtala Mohammed Foundation which has already been providing support for the families of the missing Chibok girls and which runs a truama and counseling faciity in Kano, will also be involved in the ongoing work with Amina in monitoring her progress and any additional support she requires.
“For the continuation of Amina’s education so abruptly disrupted will definitely be a propriety of the federal government, Amina must be able go back to school. Nobody in Nigeria should be put through the brutality of forced marriage, every girl has a right to education and their choice of life.
“Rest assured that this administration will continue to do what it can to rescue the Chibok girls who are still in Boko Haram’s captivity. Amina’s rescue gives us new hope and offers a unique opportunity to vital information”, he said.
Shettima in his remarks, said the President’s patience, persistence, perseverance, doggedness for the restoration of peace in the north east has started to yield dividend.
He said a year ago, nobody could venture out of Maiduguri beyond 15 kilometers, adding that Maiduguri was on the verge of falling into the hands Boko Haram, who he referred to as demented.
“We were under seige until God in his infinite mercies intervened with your emergence as president.
“The abduction of Chibok girls was the kicking point. The abduction of the Chibok girls was the point the world woke up from her slumber, when the conscience of the world got pricked. We have to thank you for your efforts in the north east.
“Boko Haram are now on the defensive and on the run and I am pleased to tell the whole world that not a single local government in Borno or in Yobe or Adamawa are under the control of the Boko Haram. They have been sufficiently degraded and now they have resorted to suicide bombing which is a sign of weakness.
“With mix feelings, with happiness mix with sadness because 218 girls are not accounted for but a journey of a thousand miles starts with single steps and the recovery of Amina Ali is a sign of greater things to come as our gallant troops engaged in the counter insurgency operations especially in the Sambisa and the shores of the Lake Chad”, he said.
The Defence Minister, Mansur Dan Ali, disclosed that 69 soldiers have lost their lives since they embarked on the mission.
He said in the 22 days of the operations 20 villages have been cleared of Boko Haram, while 150 have been rescued.
He said, “What we are celebrating today is your political commitment and support which has given major boost to the success of the fight against terrorism.
“The change of military leadership at the inception of this administration injected new ideas and vigour into our military administration. Consequently Sir, the armed forces of Nigeria achieved tremendous success by ensuring that the safety of lives and properties and protection of territorial integrity of our country.
“This operation crack down is offensive operation within operation Lafia Dole which started on the 28th of April. It was aimed at clearing Sambisa forest, the haven of Boko Haram terrorists.
“In that operations we have been able to clear a lot of villages, 20 villages have been cleared in the last 22 days of this operation. We have also rescued over 150 in this operation since it started among which we separated our Chibok girl, Amina Ali.
“The officers and men of the Armed Forces have actually been involved in this operation. In these 22 days we have lost about seven soldiers, three due to enemy action and IEDs, one accidental during clearing of IEDs, and three as a result of road traffic accidents. We have also had some troops injured and they are responding to treatment. We have counted close to about 69 killed in action and we have also captured equipment and also boomed some of their own platform”.