The Nigerian schoolgirl rescued after two years of being held captive by Boko Haram militants will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday amid hopes that she can help shed light on the whereabouts of more than 200 other missing girls.
Soldiers working with a civilian vigilante group rescued the girl, named as Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, on Tuesday near Damboa in the remote northeast with officials confirming she was one of 219 girls abducted from a secondary school in Chibok.
An army spokesman said she was found with her four-month old baby and a “suspected Boko Haram terrorist” called Mohammed Hayatu, who claimed to be the girl’s husband, was also detained.
Her mother in an interview last year said Ali’s father had died some months after her daughter was kidnapped with the stress taking a toll on his health.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the girl is currently in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, but will be brought to the national capital Abuja to meet Buhari.
Ali was handed over to Borno State Governor, Kashim Shetima, at the Government House in Maiduguri by the Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Brig. Gen. Victor Ezugwu, on Wednesday.
Her rescue should give a boost to Buhari, a former military ruler who made crushing the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency a pillar of his presidential campaign in 2015.
Boko Haram captured 276 girls from a school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April 2014, as part of a seven-year-old insurgency to set up an Islamic state in the north which has killed some 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million.
Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of the remaining missing girls accused former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s then leader, of not doing enough to find their daughters whose disappearance sparked a global campaign #bringbackourgirls.
Jonathan lost office in an election in March 2015.
Ali’s mother, Binta Ali Nkeki, last year spoke of her daughter’s fear of Boko Haram but of her enjoyment of attending school and doing well at her studies.
Her mother told the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, a Nigerian non-profit organisation researching a book on the missing Chibok girls, that she was not sure of the age of Ali, the youngest of her 13 children although only three survived their early years.
“She always sewed her own clothes,” said her mother in the interview released to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by Aisha Oyebode of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation.
Binta said Ali’s father died some months after his daughter was abducted.
“After Amina was kidnapped, only two (of our children) are left alive,” she said, adding that her other son and daughter both live in Lagos.
She said she constantly thought of her lost daughter who had always helped her around the house.
“(My son) said I should take it easy and stop crying,” she told the Foundation. “He reminded me that I am not the only parent who lost a child.”