Family demands news of Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Even family haven't been able to see her. Nigeria's Bring Back Our Girls movement is demanding that the government provide news of the only Chibok schoolgirl among 219 kidnapped to escape the clutches of Boko Haram Islamic extremists.
"Even this morning people came to my house asking if I had been able to find out her whereabouts. It's outrageous! Some people are crying!" Yakubu Nkeki, an uncle of Amina Ali Nkeki, told The Associated Press by telephone on Thursday.
"We don't understand why the government wants to keep her family away" after her captivity of more than two years, he said.
Hunters found Ali last month wandering on the fringes of Boko Haram's Sambisa Forest stronghold with her 4-month-old baby and the child's father, a Boko Haram fighter who she said helped her escape.
She was flown to the capital, Abuja, for a televised meeting at which President Muhammadu Buhari promised her the best care, rehabilitation and education.
The Bring Back Our Girls movement says no one has seen her since.
Human Rights Watch asked if she is detained. "Nigerian authorities should clarify Amina's present legal status. Is she a detainee? On what charges? Is her isolation, along with her mother and baby, of her own free will or forced by authorities?" the London-based rights organization's Nigeria researcher, Mausi Segun, said to the AP.
The Defense Ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, did not answer that question but said that Ali's privacy needs to be protected.
"Nobody is hiding anybody," he told the AP. "We have to safeguard her and give her all the necessary security for her to recuperate well. ... As soon as everything is sorted out, Amina would be made accessible."
In a statement Wednesday night marking the 800th day of the mass abduction that outraged the world, Bring Back Our Girls also asked what the government is doing to try to rescue the other schoolgirls.
"We are extremely disappointed with the evident lull in rescue actions and lack of any progress report," said the statement signed by the movement's founders Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili.
It said Ali has said some of the girls have died but most are alive, raising hopes they could still be rescued.
Government, presidential and military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Charities have accused Buhari's government of exploiting Ali and politicizing her escape, for which the army tried to claim responsibility.
Ali's uncle said the last time he saw her, along with baby Safiyah and mother Binta Nkeki, was in the office of the National Security Adviser at the presidential villa on May 19.
"We have had no credible information since, though I am told they are in the hands of the government," he said.
It had been presumed that Ali would be debriefed by state security agents for information that could lead to a rescue operation.
One problem could be that Ali has been insisting that she wants only to be reunited with Mohammed Hayyatu, the Boko Haram fighter she credits for her escape and the father of her child, according to a Borno state official. The official, who spoke to Ali after she escaped and has had contact with her debriefers, insisted on speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Nigeria's military has said that Hayyatu appeared to be a Boko Haram commander and is being held for interrogation.
Bring Back Our Girls demanded the government prosecute Hayyatu for abduction and rape.
The AP has been unable to establish the whereabouts of some other freed Boko Haram captives taken for alleged debriefing and counseling by the office of the National Security Adviser. They include Binta Ibrahim, whom U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power has called a hero for saving three Christian children held with her in captivity by Boko Haram for 15 months.
Soldiers have freed thousands of Boko Haram captives this year as they have recaptured large swaths of territory where Boko Haram had declared an Islamic caliphate.
Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun contributed to this report from Abuja, Nigeria.