t was a scene that brought out tears in the eyes of all present as the 21 freed Chibok girls were reunited with their parents yesterday in Abuja.
The Bible-clutching girls danced and sang with joy during the service attended by top government officials and a few other guests.
The event got to its high pitch as the parents arrived at the venue while the service was ongoing.
It was the first meeting after two and a half years of separation.
The excited girls ran, crying to parents who were equally so excited to see them. The parents hugged and carried them up in excitement.
The father of Deborah Jafaru explained how his daughter was taken and how grateful he was.
He said: “Unlike the others, Deborah had already finished her secondary school; she did not make her papers and returned to rewrite her WASCE when she was taken.
“She just got married two weeks before returning for her papers and they took her, her husband has remarried now. They abducted her with pregnancy and she had my grandchild there but I’m just grateful to God and the government for returning my daughter and grandchild to me safely. Words cannot describe how I feel at the moment.”
Deborah is the only one among the girls who returned with a baby.
Mrs Rifkatu John, carried her daughter Jummai Bakwa, on her back, with her wrapper like a baby.
She refused to leave her daughter throughout the event . She said: “I never thought that I would see my daughter again in this life time; I prayed so much for her safe return and here she is finally. I just want to give God all the glory and thank the government for bringing her back. I pray that the other Chibok mothers have the opportunity to see their daughters again and experience the joy I feel today,” she said.
Another Chibok girl, Rahab Ibrahim, expressed gratitude to the government for ensuring their release, saying: “We never knew they would come out, we thought we were going to be there and never come out but here we are today, with our parents, I want to thank the government for making it possible for us to see our parents again today.”
The mother of Mariamu Lawal pleaded with the government to rescue the other girls.
“We are grateful to Buhari and all Nigerians for supporting us and ensuring the release of our daughters, we hope that the other girls are rescued as soon as possible, so their parents will have the opportunity to be as happy as we are today.”
Father of Grace Gaphani said: ”I am grateful to God and Nigerians for not forgetting us, I had lost hope, I never thought that I would see my daughter again but God returned her to me, I am so grateful to God for giving me another chance with my daughter, I am entrusting my daughter in the care of the government, let them take care of her, give her all the education she wants, even if it means taking her to America, I give them the permission to do it. She has always wanted to be educated, now I want the government to help her attain the level of education she wants to attain.”
Chairman of the Chibok parents Association, Yakubu Nkeki said the parents would not be returning home with the girls. “They have not been handed over to their parents completely because they are still undergoing some trauma counselling, we are not taking them back home with us, they are going to remain with the government, to ensure their welfare and health before they are handed to us.
”We pleading with the government to find a reasonable school for them, we want them to continue with their education.”
Nkeki also lamented the negative news making the rounds on the social media about the girls being ill and pregnant which according to him is not true.” I have gone on the Internet and seen so many negative stories concerning our girls, some people say they are sick, some say pregnant and so many things but here we are today and our daughters are not looking ill or pregnant, they recognised us as soon as we arrived and were so excited, I just want people to stop spreading bad news about our daughters, people should please wait, verify before spreading news.”