By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The BringBackOurGirls group yesterday confirmed the doubt raised by THISDAY on Thursday about the second Chibok girl returnee, Miss Serah Luka, saying she was not among the 276 girls that Boko Haram abducted over two years ago.
The advocacy movement also advised the federal government and the military to adopt a structured process of verifying rescued persons as outlined in its designed Verification, Authentication and Reintegration System (VARS), adding that the tool would help to accurately identify, rehabilitate, resettle and reintegrate recovered citizens.
The Nigerian Army had claimed on Thursday night that a second Chibok girl, Miss Serah Luka, was rescued.
Serah’s rescue came as Miss Amina Ali, who was rescued on Wednesday by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) on the fringes of Sambisa, was flown in a presidential jet with her family to Abuja, where she met with President Muhammadu Buhari at Presidential Villa in Abuja.
A statement by the Nigerian Army spokesman, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman had said Serah, who was Number 157 on the list of the abducted schoolgirls, was a Junior Secondary School One (JSS1) student of Government Secondary School, Chibok, at the time of her abduction, and was believed to be the daughter of Pastor Luka.
THISDAY had reported that the claim by the army that Miss Luka was a JSS1 student at the time of her abduction ran contrary to what had been reported consistently for two years that the 276 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram were Senior Secondary School Three (SS3) students who were in school taking their West African School Certificate examination.
A review of the full list of the abducted girls published by THISDAY also showed that there was no Serah Luka on the list. The names with some semblance to Sarah Luka on the list included “Serah Samuel”, “Serah Nkeki”, “Kauna Luka” and “Naomi Luka”.
However, making clarification in a statement issued in Abuja, the spokesperson of the BringBackOurGirls group, Mr. Sesugh Akume said background checks had revealed that the second returnee, Miss Serah Luka, was an SSS 1 (Senior Secondary School) learner at GSS Chibok, who was abducted by the insurgents in her home in Madagali, area of Adamawa State.
The group however said they were excited with the news of yet another rescued Chibok girl.
According to the group, “Every citizen returned is victory for us all and we take delight in welcoming back Serah Luka. We rejoice in her reunion with her family and demand that she be given all the support necessary to fully restore her and return her to school within a safe neighborhood.
“Rehabilitating victims of abduction requires a systematic and systemic process and programs. The federal government and the military should adopt the structured process of verifying rescued persons as outlined in the Verification, Authentication and Reintegration System (VARS).
“The tool would help to accurately identify, rehabilitate, resettle and reintegrate recovered citizens, as was designed by the group and handed to the federal government more than one year ago.”
The advocacy group however commended the “gallant” Nigerian army, the Civilian JTF, and the other security forces saying its members are strongly with them.
They said through great sacrifice, they annihilated the insurgents, returned the compatriots, reclaimed the nation’s territories, and restored peace and normality, especially in Northeast Nigeria.
The full statement issued by the Nigeria Army had stated: “At about 11 am today, Thursday, 19th May 2016, troops of 231 Battalion, 331 Artillery Regiment (AR), Detachment of Armed Forces Special Forces (AFSF) 2, Explosive Ordinance (EOD) Team and civilian vigilante group of Buratai, conducted clearance operations at Shettima Aboh, Hong and Biladdili general area in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.
“During the operations, the troops killed 35 Boko Haram terrorists and recovered several arms and ammunitions and other items.
“In addition, they rescued 97 women and children held captives by the Boko Haram terrorists. We are glad to state that among those rescued is a girl believed to be one of the Chibok Government Secondary School girls that were abducted on 14th April 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists.
“Her name is Miss Serah Luka, who is number 157 on the list of the abducted school girls. She is believed to be the daughter of Pastor Luka”, the statement said.
“During debriefing, the girl revealed that she was a JSS1 student of the school at the time they were abducted. She further added that she hails from Madagali, Adamawa State.
“She averred that she reported at the school barely two months and one week before her unfortunate abduction along with other girls over two years ago.
“She added that there were three other girls who fled from Shettima Aboh when the troops invaded the area earlier today which led to their rescue.
“She is presently receiving medical attention at the medical facility of Abogo Largema Cantonment, Biu, Borno State.”