In the past, the Nigerian military has claimed to have found some of the girls, before backtracking. After their kidnapping by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, the then-Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh, famously insisted the army knew where the girls were and would bring them back soon. That of course did not happen. Western allies also reportedly complained that Nigeria did not act on intelligence they had provided.
All this criticism might explain why the army would want to show how their operations had resulted in the freedom of one of the group. Official statements said the freed Chibok Girl had been rescued in a military operation. But a source told the BBC she said she was found by a vigilante group in a village where she had sought refuge from Boko Haram.
It was from there she was taken into army custody, and the Nigerian government sprung into action. After being reunited with her family, the girl was handed over to the Borno State government and then flown to the capital, Abuja, to meet President Muhammadu Buhari and appear before the world’s media. By this time, photos were circulating of her with her four-month-old baby and a man who claimed to be her husband.
Representatives of the missing girls’ parents said they did not recognise her and that she was not on their missing list. They said she was indeed a student at the same school, but Boko Haram seized her at a different time and location.
This raised more questions still because. while 97 women and children were also rescued, it was she who immediately shot into the limelight. She will most likely now fade into obscurity. The others who were saved remain faceless and will possibly end up in a camp for displaced people.