Community Worried Rescued Chibok Girls Writing Final Year Exams At Risk Of Contracting COVID-19

The Kibaku (Chibok) Area Development Association (KADA) has expressed concern over the risk of members of the community, especially the schoolgirls rescued from Boko Haram insurgents in 2017, contracting the coronavirus in their final year examination centre.

The girls were among the 219 students abducted from their dormitory in Government Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, 2014, and slated to write their final year exams in the current session.

The community took the position against the background of preparations being made by the government to allow children in examination classes to write their tests.

However, the government reversed its position on Wednesday following increasing cases of the virus infection across the country, which currently stands at 30,249.

In a statement signed by the National President of the association, Dauda Ndirpaya Iliya, and the Director of Media and Publicity, Dr Manasseh Allen, the community noted that the girls had been sent to the Government Girls’ College, Maiduguri, with students from five other schools.

It said the arrangement would expose the children to congestion that would make social distancing almost impossible.

“Considering the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, this raises grave concern for KADA, about the safety of our children, and by extension our entire community,” it stated.

The association also called on the Federal Government for information on current rescue efforts regarding the remaining kidnapped girls and action being taken to check the wave of attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on the community.

The Kibaku community said the last time it received information on rescue efforts regarding the remaining schoolgirls was after the return of 82 of them on May 17, 2017.

It also said GSS Chibok, from where they were kidnapped, had been abandoned “Despite promises and commitments to rebuild it, including support from the Safe Schools Initiative and other organizations.

“The Corps of Nigerian Army Engineers began work on it but abandoned it and it remains uncompleted to this day,” KADA said.

It said the school currently operated as an afternoon day school in a nearby primary school where the pupils closed in the afternoon for the secondary school students to resume.

Those who were enrolled in school after their return are yet to reintegrate into their new environment and make progress in their studies due to their inability to interact with other students.

“They remain uncertain when they shall be writing their O’Level final examinations, and so forth.

“In the school, they are isolated and not allowed to mingle, interact, and socialise with other students which would have been a means of learning, and continuous psychosocial therapy.

“The Federal Government has also frustrated any help that came the way of these daughters of ours,” the community wrote.

Ten of the girls have already dropped out from the American University of Nigeria due to the frustration, it said.

“The Federal Government has also frustrated any help that came the way of these daughters of ours.

“Many schools abroad and voluntary organizations offered to provide them with scholarships but were hindered and frustrated by the Federal Government.

“For instance, sometime in August 2018, Maryam Wavi, Asabe Goni, Amina Ali Nkeki, Saratu Emmanuel and Rebecca Ishaku were literally blocked at the airport, and by the police and State Security Service who handed them along with their parents to the Nigerian Immigration Services and were detained until they missed their flight.

“They were on full scholarships to study in the United States, with the full consent of their parents and proper documentation. After they missed their flight, the immigration services let them go,” KADA stated.

It also recounted a wave of attacks by Boko Haram over the past six months with the most recent on June 30 which caused deaths and the destruction of property.

It appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the government to intervene and protect lives and property and to give feedback on the remaining schoolgirls yet to return home.

‘KADA calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action in returning our missing 112 Chibok girls. Also to oversee timely and consistent feedback to the families and the community of our Chibok girls on progress being made.

“Further to the current effort by the Federal Government, it would do well to open up for others to join in assisting our returned daughters.

“Resuming and completing work on Government Secondary School, Chibok, destroyed in 2014, which is the only secondary school in Chibok Local Government Area, and one of the only few in the entire Kibaku Area, is a top priority, the Kibaku community stated

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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