West & Central Africa

Released Chibok Girls in Church for the First Time in Over Two Years

chibok-girls-church-service3All the 21 Chibok girls released this month were in Church at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday for a worship and thanksgiving service for the first time since their abduction in April 2014.

Their attendance at the service cleared up any speculation about their faith or conversion to Islam during their captivity.

The girls met with their parents for the first time at the open church service. The emotions were high as families sang and cried when they met with the girls for the first time since release.

One mother was so overjoyed that she carried her daughter on her back and walked around with her crying. The early morning drizzle did nothing to dampen the excitement.

One of the girls, Gloria Dame, in a brief testimony said, “We stayed for one month  and 10 days without food. I narrowly escaped a bomb blast in the forest. I never knew there would be a day like this that I will give thanks to God among other people.” Gloria then expressed her wish for their captors, “We are praying to God to touch the heart of Boko Haram to repent and we are calling on Nigerians to pray and fast for the release of our remaining ones in captivity,’’ she said.

The spokesman to President Buhari said there is an on going negotiation to release  the remaining 83 girls. “The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them.”

A number of the girls are still unaccounted for but sources say some of the girls married to the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist fighters have chosen not to return home. Boko Haram, in a propaganda video had also claimed that some of the girls were killed in an aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force when it dropped bomb in one of the camps. There is speculation that some other girls have died from diseases and starvation.

Although the Nigerian Government denies any prisoner swap or paid ransom for the released of the girls, source say the government is likely to negotiate some settlement for the release of the rest of the Chibok girls still held captive by the terror group.