The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the 106 Chibok girls, who were released by the Boko Haram insurgents, would resume school in September 2017.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Jummai Alhassan, stated this on Saturday during a special lunch organised for the girls and their parents in Abuja where she also said that none of the girls was HIV positive or pregnant.
The Minister said the resumption is sequel to conclusion of the rehabilitation and reintegration programme organised for them in September saying that the girls were rehabilitated and ready to pursue their academic goals again.
Alhassan hinted the Government would keep all the 106 girls in one institution in the North East adding that it was in talks with the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, to take in the girls for its foundation programme.
“Since release of the 21 girls, the American university has indicated interest in supporting the girls just like other development partners in the country,” she said.
“The programme is coming to an end and the girls are due for school in September but they (AUN) have been preparing just for the 21.
“So we are talking to see how the others can be accommodated not necessarily by them bearing the cost or anything because we have many people that want to support the education of the girls in addition to government readiness.”
The Minister disclosed 14 of the girls who escaped from Boko Haram received scholarship by the AUN and went through the foundation programme before commencement of their tertiary education.
She stated the government was working to secure release of the remaining girls in Boko Haram custody and appealed to Boko Haram terrorists to embrace dialogue and stop the insurgency in the North East.
“Negotiation with Boko Haram is still going on. You know the first 21 were released in October last year and about six orseven months later, the 82 came so negotiations are still going on and we are hopeful by the grace of God that the rest will be released also.
“They should dialogue and see reasons and that whatever it is, they should come to the table.
“Government is ready to dialogue with them. They should dialogue with government to bring an end to this thing that is affecting us.”
The Minister dismissed insinuations government was preventing parents of the girls from visiting them, stressing the girls were not compelled to be in government custody.
The Vice President, Administration, of the AUN, Mr. Reginald Briggs, said two of the 24 girls were in year two studying Computer Science and Journalism. He added that two other girls had been given admission to study accounting, three were doing pre-medical degree programmes, while one of them was billed to study law.
Chairman, Abducted Chibok Girls Movement, Yakubu Keki, commended the government for taking adequate care of the girls revealing that he had confidence in the ability of the government to negotiate release of the remaining girls the same way their counterparts were freed.
Speaking with journalists, one of the girls, Miss Hauwa Ntakai, appealed to the Federal Government to devote attention to the release of other abducted non-schoolgirls who are still under the captivity of the dreaded terrorists.
She urged the government to also direct its attention to other girls in Boko Haram captivity describing the Sambisa Forest as a place of sorrow.
“We have many of our sisters there that are not students of any school and nobody talks about them. It is because we were abducted from a school that government talked to Boko Haram and they released us,” she said.