Kasim Sumaina and Tayo Olaleye in Abuja
After undergoing surgery that lasted for almost six hours, about one week in the intensive care unit (ICU), and a month in recovery in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ali Ahmadu Chibok, the six-year-old boy who fell victim to one of Boko Haram’s murderous invasions on Chibok community in Borno State four years ago, returned home Monday to a tumultuous welcome.
Ali, whose return was covered by reporters, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, onboard an Ethiopian Airways flight at exactly 12.22 p.m. from Dubai, where he had spent a couple of months undergoing treatment.
The young lad was dressed in grey blazer, white shirt and blue jeans, and was all smiles as he disembarked from the plane.
Overwhelmed with joy, Ali thrilled the crowd with brisk walks at the Abuja airport. It was hectic controlling those who trooped out to catch the glimpse of the boy.
When he was approached by journalists at the arrival area of the airport, he simply said: “I am fine.”
When asked in Hausa about his experience in Dubai, he said “lafiya lao” (Fine, thank you).
To really prove that he was fine, Ali lifted his legs almost in a goose-step, much to the delight of onlookers.
He arrived the country alongside his aunt, Hannatu Madu, Mr. Nuhu Kwajafah, the coordinator of Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care (GIPLC), the NGO that brought Ali’s predicament to light after he sustained life-threatening injuries from the Boko Haram attack, and representatives of Dickens Sanomi Foundation, which provided the funding for his treatment and recovery.
Reporters seized the moment to ask him about his ambition, to which he responded in Hausa: “I am fine, I want to be a policeman, I want to save people from harm.”
Speaking to reporters, Kwajafah narrated how four years ago Ali fell victim to one of Boko Haram’s murderous invasions that resulted in the deaths of his parents.
According to him, “That fateful night, he sustained major injuries and suffered excruciating pain all over his body, brought upon him by the senseless marauders. They crushed everything and everyone in their path, severely damaging his vertebra column in the process but the hand of God preserved Ali, so we may give glory to His name.
“After that incident, the little boy did not have access to any form of orthodox medication. He was at the mercy of traditionalists, in highly unpredictable and perilous conditions.
“Obviously, during this period, access to education, nutrition, psychosocial tuning, water, sanitation or hygiene, were very limited, if not non-existent.
“He was immobile and fast deteriorating, physically and mentally, from that period till the first quarter of this year, when GIPLC made contact with him.
“The organisation facilitated the relevant examinations and digital/lab tests for his assessment and proper medical attention. The results revealed that he couldn’t access the quality care required to literally realign him towards a better quality of life, hence the decision to make the prerequisite travel arrangements to travel abroad.”
Kwajafah added that after Ali was duly assessed and the various options were considered from all over the world, his NGO resolved to take him to the UAE.
“After almost six hours of an extremely delicate surgery, including about a week in ICU and a month in recovery, Ali took his first steps into a brighter future.
“Ali has been in the UAE, being monitored, as he recuperated and to God’s glory, Ali who left this airport on a wheelchair a couple of months ago, is back before you today on his two feet, looking handsome and ready to start his new life,” he said.
Kwajafah stated that GIPLC remained committed to Ali’s post-surgery and well being and had received confirmation from the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dickens Sanomi Foundation who is also the chairman of Taleveras Group, Mr. Igho Sanomi, to support his reintegration into the society and will provide him with a scholarship as he settles in Abuja.
Similarly, Mr. Goodluck Hayi, a board member of the Dickens Sanomi Foundation, stated that the young boy’s arrival and survival was a thing of joy to the foundation.
According to him, “About three months ago, we all witnessed how, at the same airport, Ali Ahmadu was being taken away on a wheelchair, today to the glory of God we are here to receive Ali Ahmadu, walking handsomely into our arms.
“What started as a painful journey for little Ali after the Boko Haram attack in Chibok four years ago that confined him to a wheelchair, has transformed into a journey of hope, love and care.”
Hayi further noted that the Dickson Sanomi Foundation is premised on the principle of love and care, one that was practised and preached by the late Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Mr. Dickens Sanomi, the father of the Taleveras boss.
“Today we demonstrate these principles by being our neighbours’ keepers and teaching love by showing it,” he said.
The foundation, he noted, will be working with Ali’s family through GIPLC and will be supporting Ali’s post-surgery life, “so we will help him settle into Abuja to grow as a child showered with love and care”.
“I am authorised to announce that an education scholarship will be provided for Ali until he gets to the university by the Taleveras Foundation.
“Thank you to all Nigerians and to everyone who has supported this journey,” Hayi said.