The federal government and parents of some Chibok schoolgirls that escaped from Boko Haram, have accused non-governmental organisations of using the girls to get donations in the United States.
After the April 14, 2014 abduction of Chibok girls, some individuals and NGOs had offered to help the girls who escaped overcome their trauma. Some 15 girls were given offers to go to the United States for their education.
On Thursday, the minister of Women Affairs, Aishatu Alhassan, was in Maiduguri the Borno state capital, where she met with the parents and later addressed the media.
According to the minister, of the 15 girls currently in the U.S., only five are in schools as promised.
Mrs. Alhassan, who spoke in the presence of some parents of the abducted girls, said the education of another five girls had to be taken over by the Murtala Mohammed Foundation after the intervention of the federal government.
“We have heard reports that some of the Chibok schoolgirls that escaped abduction were taken to the U.S. by some persons under a private arrangement of which the government was not involved,” she said.
“We wanted to talk to the parents about these girls in the U.S. because every Nigerian is the business of the government. The welfare of every Nigerian is the responsibility of government whether in Nigeria or abroad.
“Therefore when we got the information that the girls were being used as tools for making money – not prostitution – but in the sense that they will be taken here and there where they go and relay their experiences during the insurgency, especially the invasion of Chibok town by Boko Haram and how they were abducted.
“After that, people used them to ask for donations; by so doing they make money out of it. So the girls became fed up; and started complaining that they were taken to U.S. on an arrangement that they were going to send them to school and that they were going to pay for their school. But unfortunately they said they were not allowed to remain in school.
“The Nigerian government of course has business in the welfare of every Nigerian at home or overseas; so officials now went in and did some investigation and found that the case was true. So through the ministry of foreign affairs, my ministry was contacted; and there was a meeting held with the parents who we invited to discuss the matter.
“Now we had gotten a letter from one of the people that took the girls now making some demands pertaining to the girls and that necessitated my coming to meet with the children’s parents so that we talk now that I am in Maiduguri. We have discussed and understood each other and charted the way forward. And I am going back to report to Mr. President who encouraged me to meet with the ministry of foreign affairs and the parents.
“I have briefed them that the government is still doing its best to make sure that the ones in captivity are brought back home safe and sound. And they all appreciated our efforts and today they also dissociated themselves with any group including bring back our girls group that tries to use their name in order to insult the government or to undermine the authority of Mr. President.
“Most importantly, I conveyed Mr. President’s regards and how he feels for them as well as the concerns he has over the plight of their girls in captivity,” Mrs. Ahlhassan said.
Responding on behalf of the parents of the missing girls, Yakubu Nkeki Maiva, who identified himself as the chairman of the parents of abducted Chibok girls said “on the issue of our daughters that managed to escape from Boko Haram during the abduction who are now schooling in the US, we want the federal government to take over from those organizations and individuals, we want them to now study under the care of the federal government.
“When they were taken abroad we were told that they were going there to study and not going on tourism. We want them to return home with certificates and not tourists’ experiences. We want government to come in and take over their education there,” he said.
Another parent, Paul Ali Maiva, said the idea of the girls going abroad for free scholarship came through him when he was contacted by Paul Gadzama.
“I am one of the parents of the girls that were taken to the USA,” he said.
“Our daughters were taken abroad through Mr. Paul Gadzama whom we thanked for his kindness. But I never knew him but I just saw a call on my phone and he introduced himself, then informed me that he wanted my daughter to be taken the US in order to get her education. He said I should discuss with my wife and get back to him. I thanked him and then had a thought over it with my wife.
“So I allowed my daughter and the orphan daughter of my younger brother to be taken away by Mr. Paul alongside other girls from different parents who had also escaped the abduction.
“We are happy that they are there studying. But from the information we are hearing of late, it seemed they are not really studying in schools as we assumed. We understand that they are being used for show business where they would be taken to places for them to narrate how they escaped Boko Haram captivity; and then afterwards they will be given money. That was not want we wanted for our children.
“It is in that respect that we are pleading with the federal government to help us retrieve our daughters and let them if possible be under the federal government while they are schooling. We don’t want our daughters to be used for trading abroad; all we wanted for them is education that will enable them have useful certificates that can be beneficial to the country, our state and Chibok community. We plead with government to help us rescue our other girls. We need your help”.
But the minster said the government could not take over the girls’ education directly since it was not part of the earlier arrangement.
She however said the government would do all it could to get some other NGOs that could be magnanimous to take over the sponsorship of the girls education as it did with the five currently under the care of Murtala Foundation.