Emotions ran high in Chibok yesterday as the first of 219 school girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents over two years ago was brought to the village for identification.
Amina Ali was rescued on Tuesday night in Bale village at the edge of the Sambisa forest by a Chibok vigilante group which handed her over to the military.
The girls were seized by the insurgents from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State in April 2014 as they stayed in school to write their final examinations. Since then no one had set sight on anyone of them.
Residents poured on to the streets as news spread that troops had brought one of the abducted girls to the village.
Some of those who saw the girl recognised her instantly and sent for her mother to come. On sighting each other mother and daughter ran into an emotional embrace.
She was 17 when she was abducted, now she is 19, “married” to a Boko Haram fighter and carrying his four-month old child.
Her father died of trauma while she was in captivity. Six other parents also died of trauma.
“Amina, are you truly the one? So, you are alive!” the mother, was quoted to have said.
The two cried for a while before Amina narrated her ordeal. Many of the residents also shed tears.
Amina reportedly told the community leaders that her school mates were in Sambisa forest, but that six of them had died”
They are “well secured and protected” to stop the Nigerian Army from rescuing them,” she said.
Secretary of Chibok Local Government, Awomi Nkeki, who is also the acting chairman of the council, and from the same clan with Amina, said , that the rescued girl had been reunited with her mother.
He said the reunion was emotional because Amina’s mother was shocked by what she saw, and nearly slumped.
Amina was found in a building at the Bale village after a fierce fighting between some Boko Haram insurgents and youth vigilantes, also known as Civilian JTF.
Sources said Amina, who looked dejected and walked with a limp, was found breastfeeding her daughter.
A doctor from Chibok, Idriss Danladi, who has been treating beleaguered parents of the abducted girls, said she is pregnant again.
Her rescue has now heightened hopes in Chibok and across the country, that some of the girls, whose kidnap had attracted the attention of world, are still alive.
She reportedly told her rescuers that six of her friends died in captivity and expressed optimism that many others were still alive.
Amina’s rescue came when vigilantes from Damboa town launched a counter attack to stop fleeing Boko Haram from the Sambisa forest.
James Bako, an opinion leader in Chibok, who was one of the first people that saw the rescued girl, said she escaped from the Sambisa forest together with her “husband” as a result of ground and aerial offensive by Nigerian security forces.
He said the girl told them that she had resigned to fate, after she was forcefully married off to a man, whom she said was equally abducted, conscripted and told to fight for the insurgents.
“After she was found in the house, Amina was smart enough to hide her identity…She was being careful when she earlier gave her name as Falmata Mbalala, which was quoted by the army.
“She wanted to be sure she was safe after leaving the Sambisa forest before revealing her true identity,” he said.
Vanessa Gar, a mother of one of the abducted Chibok girls, said after the civilian JTF fought the Boko Haram assailants, they arrested two alive, who said they would give “good information” if their lives were spared.
“The vigilantes agreed and the captured terrorists took them to a house in Bale. Many women were in the house.
“One of the vigilantes, who surveyed the faces of women in the house, paid special attention to Amina. He realised that she looked like the people from one of the Chibok communities. He spoke to her in their local dialect and she responded,” he said.
How Amina got married
Nkeki, who confirmed the reunion, said the name of the man that got “married” to Amina is Mohammed Hayado.
“Amina said Mohammed was also captured and forced to become a member of the Boko Haram. The terrorists’ commander, who was in charge of handling her and other women, directed that she should marry Mohammed and she had no option but to agree,” he said.
Jummai Salama, who was present when Amina was taken to her mother, said the girl told the vigilantes that her “husband” was not far from where she was found and wanted him to be rescued also.
“Of course, Amina is one of our daughters that were abducted at GGSS Chibok. We are really happy that she is back.
“Somehow, I think she got used to the young man and does not want him to be killed, probably because she has a child for him,” She said.
She said Amina’s return has rekindled hope in Chibok and environs, that their daughters, who are still alive, would one day return.
Adamu Musa, a trader in Chibok, whose three nieces were among the abducted school girls, said they had been grieving in the last two years.
“There is a new hope now. We are glad that at last one of the girls has been found, meaning that many more would be found by the grace of God.”