A second Nigerian schoolgirl has been rescued after spending over two years of captivity with Boko Haram militants, a spokesman for the Nigerian army says.
Soldiers working with a civilian vigilante group found one of the girls on Tuesday near Damboa, south of Maiduguri.
The second girl was found days later, according to army spokesman Sani Usman, who released the information on Thursday in a message carried by PR Nigeria, which releases government statements.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army was reportedly moving in to Boko Haram’s final stronghold in the Sambisa forest to rescue more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls.
Shortly after escapee Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki met Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, the governor of Borno state where the town of Chibok is located said army generals were already drawing up plans to rescue her classmates.
“We believe that in the coming weeks we shall recover the rest of the girls,” Governor Kashim Shettima told reporters. “The military is already moving into the forest.”
Previous military attempts to storm Sambisa have met with mixed success, with soldiers making significant in-roads but failing to finish off Boko Haram after running into bands of well-armed guerrillas, mines and booby traps.
Amina, who was accompanied by her mother, Binta, and Nigeria’s defence minister and national security adviser, spent more than an hour with Buhari, who made crushing Boko Haram a pillar of his 2015 presidential election campaign.
Buhari, 73, Nigeria’s former military ruler, cradled Amina’s four-month-old baby in his arms during the meeting in the lavish presidential villa in Abuja before posing for a group photograph.
“Amina’s rescue gives us new hope and offers a unique opportunity to vital information,” Buhari said.
He said the government would make it a priority that Amina, can go back to school.
“Nobody in Nigeria should be put through the brutality of forced marriage, every girl has a right to education and their choice of life,” he said. “Amina must be able go back to school.”
After Amina was discovered on Tuesday by soldiers and a civilian vigilante group, the army said it had detained a suspected Boko Haram militant called Mohammed Hayatu, who said he was Amina’s husband.
On Thursday the military released pictures of a clean-shaven man in a white shirt and cream slacks sitting beside Amina on a hospital bed holding the infant in his lap.
Boko Haram captured 276 girls in their night-time raid on Chibok in April 2014, one of the most audacious and high-profile assaults of a seven-year-old insurgency to set up an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.