It's taken more than two years, but one of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram has finally been found.
The militant group took 276 girls from their school in Chibok in northern Nigeria in April 2014. Some of them escaped in the days after the kidnapping, but 219 have remained missing since then.
Despite the global campaign to find them and bring them home, there has been very little news of their whereabouts or wellbeing since they were taken.
But on Wednesday, one of the girls appeared. Amina Ali Nkeki was found on the edge of the Sambisa forest, near the border with Cameroon, carrying her 4-month-old baby girl.
After a brief and emotional reunion with her mother, Nkeki was flown to the Nigerian capital Abuja today to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It was emotional in a joyful way. It wasn’t sad at all,” said Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, an award-winning Nigerian novelist, who was at the meeting at the president’s villa this afternoon.
“When she came in she was completely covered up, so I thought she was going to remain shielded from the public throughout the event,” said Nwaubani. “When she was introduced to the president … they took off her veil. It was almost like a formal presentation.”
“She smiled and the president beamed. He lifted the baby from her arms and carried her. Everyone was smiling.”
According to Nwaubani, the baby girl is in good health.
Members of the #BringBackOurGirls (#BBOG) campaign react on the presentation of a banner which shows "218", instead of the previous "219", referring to kidnapped Chibok school girls, during a sit-out in Abuja, Nigeria May 18, 2016, after receiving news that a Nigerian teenager kidnapped by Boko Haram from her school in Chibok more than two years ago has been rescued.
The circumstances of Nkeki's recovery are still unclear. According to Chika Oduah, a Nigerian-American journalist who has visited Chibok several times, two different accounts have emerged.
One comes from the people of Chibok.
“[Their] claim is that she was actually found wandering in the forest on Tuesday night, and that vigilantes found her,” Oduah said.
“The Nigerian government has put out its own story, and they’re saying that Wednesday afternoon is actually when Nigerian forces rescued her. So they’re framing it as a rescue.”
It is not yet known how Nkeki and her daughter will be received when they return home. The World has previously reportedthat some girls who have returned in similar circumstances have been badly treated by the local community, particularly when they have had children born to militant fathers.
But Nwaubani is hopeful that the president’s support may encourage the community to welcome Nkeki.
“Today’s ceremony was symbolic,” she said. “I think that when the president lifted the baby from her arms … he seemed to be saying that every child born in Nigeria is welcome, irrespective of whether your father is from Boko Haram or whether your mother has been with the militants for two years. It didn’t matter.”
The news that one of the Chibok girls has now been found has brought into focus the fact that the other 218 girls are still missing.
But Nwuabani is staying positive.
“If I wake up tomorrow morning, and get upset that the government hasn’t found [all of] the 219… fine. I want them to be found, even now,” she said.
“But I also want to enjoy the joy of having one of them back with us. It’s such a joyful thing and it’s worth celebrating.”
From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI