Africa

Nigeria's Chibok girls: Father's joyful reunion with freed daughter

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Media captionMr Nkeke saw his daughter in Abuja

The father of one of the 82 Nigerian women released five days ago has spoken of his joy at seeing her again three years after she was kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamist militants.

Yakubu Nkeke was briefly reunited with her on a visit to the capital, Abuja.

The rest of the Chibok girls will be reunited with their parents next week, Nigeria's minister for women says.

The Nigerian government says all 103 schoolgirls released so far will go back to school in September.

The 21 girls freed last year have been living in Abuja, rather than returning to the remote north-eastern town of Chibok, where 276 girls were abducted from their school in 2014.

"When I first saw her, she jumped and grabbed me. I held her, I started dancing around with her," said Mr Nkeke, head of the Chibok's Parents Association.

People in Chibok spent the whole night "singing and praising God" after being told of the latest release, Mr Nkeke said.

"Everyone in Chibok - not only the biological parents - everybody is rejoicing because of this," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Parents have been waiting to find out if their children are among the rescued girls

Photos of the released girls are to be shown to their parents on Sunday as part of the identification procedure, he said.

Those that identify their daughters will be brought to Abuja to see them, the Nigerian government says.

Mr Nkeke said the girls had suffered hardship during their captivity, including going some days without food. He said some had married Boko Haram militants but they had told him they had not been forced to do so.

A rehabilitation centre in the capital, Abuja, where some of the 21 girls previously freed had been staying, is to be closed in September.

Women's Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan told journalists that the girls were ready psychologically to return to school.

The young women were "stable" and "cheerful" compared to the other 21 freed, she said.

"Their psychological state is better than when these ones [the 21] came, so I believe between now and September these other ones should be able to stabilise and we will be able to take all of them to school in September," she said.

"As a lay person, not as a medical doctor, I feel that medically too they are not too bad," she added.

Ms Alhassan also said the government will continue seeking experts' advice on the girls' psychological state.

She said the vocational centre, which was especially set up for the girls' rehabilitation, will be closed after they leave to resume their education.

Image caption Aisha Alhassan said the government will close its rehabilitation centre in September

Ms Alhassan said girls at the centre had been receiving psychological care and were not "having nightmares anymore".

Those that were released on Saturday will be also be admitted to the vocational centre, where they will get skills training.

She denied reports that the young women were being held against their will and said they were free to leave the centre. At least one is currently visiting her family but her plans were being kept secret, she added.

Boko Haram militants are thought to be still holding more than 100 of the 276 taken from Chibok.

The militant group has also kidnapped thousands of other people during their insurgency in the region.

It is believed that some of those abducted have been married to fighters and had children with them.

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