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‘Chibok 82: I am no longer angry with B/Haram – Lydia Joshua’s father

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By Omeiza Ajayi

•I am no longer angry with B/Haram – Lydia Joshua’s father
•I looked for my daughter in terrorists’ hideout – Yana Joshua’s dad
•Daughter’s abduction forced me to withdraw other kids from school – Amina Ali’s father
•’21 returnees to resume school in September’

Amid emotions, parents of the 82 recently released Chibok girls were, yesterday, reunited with their daughters who were abducted over three years ago by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Borno State.

The reunion took place at a security facility, where journalists were denied access.

However, speaking with journalists before they met government officials who conveyed them to the facility, the parents, who were elated at the return of their daughters, begged the terrorist group to release the remaining girls in their custody.

‘No longer angry with Boko Haram’

Mr Adamu Joshua, father of Lydia Joshua, one of the 82 girls,  could not hide his joy, saying he wished he had feathers so he could just fly. He said he was no longer angry with Boko Haram but urged  it to release the remaining girls.

Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja

“We pray that the parents whose daughters are yet to be released  experience the kind of joy that we are experiencing right now. In fact, we, parents from Chibok, are no longer angry with what Boko Haram did, as long as our daughters have been released. We are not going to open our mouth and insult anybody. We are grateful to President Buhari; we are very happy”, the ecstatic father said.

“Lydia was my only daughter but, in her absence, God blessed me with another daughter. Now I have five boys and two daughters with the return of Lydia. I am so happy. If I  have feathers, I would fly high. We thank God for everything. My daughter, Lydia, will be meeting her sister for the first time. My wife lost so much weight because she was always thinking of her daughter. She did not suspect that Lydia would ever return to us”.

‘I looked my daughter in Boko Haram’

On his part, Joshua Dirmi, father of Yana Joshua, recounted how he  and other parents went after the sect that abducted his daughter, “but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers”. He went on: “Today, my mind feels as if this is the day I was born; even if I die today, I die a happy man because my greatest wish has been met. My gratitude goes to the whole world for the support and my prayer is that the other girls are returned to their parents like ours have been. We are also grateful to President Buhari for all his efforts in returning our daughters home.

“If you had seen me after my daughter was taken, you would not have recognized me. If I came out to farm, my heart would be so heavy that I would be unable to farm.

“After they were abducted, I was crying and running after them. I and the other fathers got as far as where we were told  the girls were being held but we could not get close because they had guns and an army; we had nothing, we were just poor farmers. We are grateful to God for touching the terrorists’ minds and allowing them to release our daughters; we are pleading with them to release the rest so that we can live together in happiness’.

‘I withdrew other kids from school’

Mr Ali, another parent, said his wife cried everday after the girls were abducted. “I  stopped my other children from going to school because I was afraid for their safety, but with the rescue  of Amina Ali, my hope returned and I was able to allow them return to school”, he stated.

“I do not think it will be wise for me to return to Chibok with my daughter right now; whatever  government wants to do, I give them my blessings; whatever my daughter wants, either to go to school or do anything else would be supported by me fully. I just want her to be happy, that is all that matters to me. All I care about right now is the fact that she is out”.

Vice Chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, Yakubu Nkeki, who is also an uncle of one of the returnee-girls,  commended  government for the abductees  release, adding that while government wanted the parents to stay up to a week in Abuja, the parents decided to just spend two days so they could go back home.

“The parents would be returning to Chibok  on Monday  morning because this is the season for farming. Everyone is preparing because this is the planting season as the rain falls, so they can plant groundnut. You know villagers, everyone is eager to return to his farm which is why we do not want to stay for more than two to three days,”Nkeki said.

“It is our making and not that of government; they want us to even stay for at least a week but we said we want to go back. We have to return and take care of the young ones; you know that you are not a man if you cannot provide food. The parents will stay with them today (Saturday) till  5pm, then we will leave the girls and return  tomorrow  (Sunday) for church service with the girls. We will stay till evening with the girls and then say, ‘bye bye’ and be on our way on Monday  morning. We discussed with the parents and they agreed to this.

“Government paid for their transportation, feeding and accommodation. They preferred to come by road, but government offered to fly them in but our women were scared to fly, so they travelled by road.

Reunion of 82 Chibok in Abuja

’21 girls to resume school in September’

“We do not know when the girls will be allowed to return; they are being taken care of right now, their health and other issues….but with the 21, they will be posted to different schools by September, based on their performance. They have stayed away from the classroom for more than three years”.

BBOG reacts

Meanwhile, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement has commended the Federal Government for facilitating the reunification.

Spokesman for the group, Sesugh Akume, said, yesterday, “The reunion between parents and their daughters went so well today. The parents arrived at  6:00 amtoday. We spoke with some on the phone, they were ecstatic.

“Today is a  milestone. The joy is unspeakable. Kudos to the FG for finally facilitating the meeting. We look forward to the remaining 113 girls coming back and reuniting with their families. We also hope that the parents who are still waiting will get support and succour from  government and not feel neglected and forgotten”.

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