Families of 21 Chibok schoolgirls freed on Thursday by Boko Haram finally arrived Abuja to reunite with their daughters today with tears flowing freely.
The parents saw their daughters for the first time in over 900 days since they were abducted from their school by the Boko Haram insurgents.
The girls were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 and freed two days ago after negotiations.
NigerianEye learnt that two buses conveyed the parents from Borno to Abuja, where they would meet with the girls.
Bulama Modu Lawal, the Vice Principal of GSS Chibok, from where the girls were taken more than two years ago, expressed appreciation to the federal and Borno State governments for their unrelenting efforts that led to the return of the girls to their parents.
He said the face of each of the 21 freed girls flickered on his mind as the Chibok Local Council chairman read out their names to him immediately after the news broke out.
“I became emotional when I heard their names and their faces came to my mind. They were my students,” he said.
He said beside the biological parents of the girls, nobody was happier with their release than the school officials because the girls were grabbed when they were under their custody.
Ali Maiyanga Askira, the father of two girls still in captivity, Maryam and Halima, said the parents of Chibok girls had lived in total frustration until the rescue of the first girl three months ago.
Maiyanga, an active member of the parents’ association of the school, said the release of as many as 21 girls had filled him with confidence.
“My special thanks go to President Muhammadu Buhari, the international partners, Aisha Murtala of Murtala Ramat Foundation, the civil organisations for their unrelenting support to the families,” he said.
Thauji Bra, a 65-year-old man living in Rumirgo village in Askira Local Area, said he last saw his daughter, Saratu, in an earlier video released by Boko Haram.
He said life had been difficult since the abduction saga and Boko Haram compounded his sorrow when they killed his eldest son on the farm, leaving behind two wives and nine children.
“After taking away Saratu, they killed my eldest son. Now, I take care of nine children and nine grandchildren,” he lamented.
On receiving the news of the 21 girls, Bra said he felt relieved and tried to make enquiries about their identities before his son in Lagos called to tell him “she was not among them.”
He, however, believed that the Buhari-led administration had demonstrated more commitment to get his daughter back to him than the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan.
He said families of the remaining girls could not wait to hear the release of their daughters.
The parents also applauded the government of Switzerland, Department of State Service (DSS), Red Cross and a local NGO in Borno State that facilitated the truce that led to the return of the 21 girls.