More Chibok schoolgirls are to be released soon in another swap deal with Boko Haram terrorists, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Aisha Alhassan said yesterday.
The minister told reporters in Abuja that the recently released 82 girls were undergoing rehabilitation and reintegration in medical facilities in Abuja.
“Negotiations are ongoing to exchange the remaining girls with Boko Haram detainees. We can’t afford to keep them any longer,” she said.
The minister, who condemned insinuations that the Federal Government had been shielding the parents and the media from having access to the girls, said there was the need for the girls to be taken through a process to relieve them of the trauma of their captivity.
Said the minister: “Most of them were having nightmares some days after they were released. We need to keep them away from the media for some time to avoid some questions that they might be asking them, we are not keeping or hiding them
“We are not shielding the girls from their parents. The parents of the recently released 82 girls have already been contacted and they will be in Abuja any moment from now. Most of them live in villages very far from Chibok, so it will take some time before they can get to Abuja.”
The 21 girls released last October by the terrorists are to return to school in September, the minister added.
“The 21 girls initially said they won’t like to go back to school in Chibok but after the various rehabilitation and reintegration process they have gone through, they are now set to return to school in September; they are now fit and eager to go back to school.
“The girls have gone through a lot of reintegration process that will make them fit to return to school. They are now medically fit, they have gone through various vocational skills, including ICT training; their parents are always in touch with them.
“I always take them to movies and parks during weekend. They are now fit to return home but we must ensure that they forget all the traumatic experience they passed through while in the bush before they can go back to Chibok,” she said
Presidential Media Adviser Garba Shehu also corroborated the return to school plan.
“Government is preparing the girls to go back to school in September because they have lost so much academically.
“It is not all the 103 so far released, but 21 of them,” he added.
”None of the girls released on Saturday will be returning to school in September as they are still undergoing medical and psychological treatment that should last two to three weeks”, the government’s Twitter feed stated.
The minister added that the government was careful about who was granted access to the 24 girls who left captivity last year.
“They are in Abuja taking part in a rehabilitation programme.
“The parents of the Chibokgirls are free to visit them at any time. We will never prevent them from seeing their daughters,” a government tweet quoted Alhassan as saying.