The federal government says it is now in charge of the Chibok schoolgirls who were admitted into US schools after fleeing the custody of Boko Haram.
Two-hundred-and seventy-six girls were kidnapped, while 57 managed to escape, the government said two have been rescued – though there is controversy over the identity of one – and 216 are still in captivity.
According to Al Jazeera, Emmanuel Ogebe, a US-based Nigerian human rights lawyer, collaborated with a Nigerian couple to help about 10 of the girls to America.
“Schooling is an incredibly high-risk activity in northern Nigeria,” Ogebe had told Al Jazeera, explaining that girls freed from Boko Haram captivity could face security risks, survivors’ guilt and discrimination from their community.
“Most had been stigmatized as a ‘Boko Haram’ wife, which further traumatized them.”
Ogbe later joined some Nigerian activists, who later formed an initiative called Education Must Continue, which assisted the girls to obtain US visas so they could attend reputable private schools that offered scholarships for them.
However, the ministry of women affairs and social development said the government had decided to revoke guardianship of the girls after a meeting with their parents.
“The federal government of Nigeria has taken over the care of the girls currently studying in the USA, who escaped from Boko Haram captivity after being abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, 2014,” the statement issued by Temitope Bamgboye, director of social welfare of the ministry, read.
“Following a meeting held on May 25, 2016, between parents of the escaped Chibok girls studying in America and officials of the federal ministry of women affairs and social development in charge of the Chibok Girls Desk specially set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government, including its representatives and agents, is now in charge of the girls. The parents signed declaration forms authorising the ministry to take over guardianship of their daughters.
“Any previous guardianship arrangement has thus been revoked. This information has been transmitted to the ministry of foreign affairs, which is to ensure that this is effected through the Nigerian Embassy in DC. The same will also be communicated to the US State Department through the US Embassy in Nigeria.
“The plan is that the girls remain in the US to pursue further education and to graduate, uninterrupted, in a safe and nurturing environment and away from the public glare, which was supposed to be the plan in the first place.”
The parents were also advised to exercise care and caution when signing away to any individual or group, the rights of guardianship to their children.