By Abdul Tukur
A Nigerian lawyer who played a crucial part in ensuring the release of more than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State has won this year’s UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.
Mr. Mustapha, 58, a former barrister turned property developer, who will be bestowed with the prestigious Award at a ceremony taking place in Geneva on Monday 2 October, set up the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School for orphans and vulnerable children in 2007.
The primary school now has 540 pupils, of whom 282 are girls. With the success of the first school, Mr Mustapha, a well-known figure in northeast Nigeria has set up another school “situated on the banks of River Gadabul. This school currently has 88 pupils.”
In an interview with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the former legal practitioner explained that: “This is the place where every child matters, no matter what religion, background or culture…Our aim is make positive changes on their lives.”
“There were children everywhere, on the streets all alone… If they have no education what will happen to them… I kept wondering what would happen to my daughter if I died, who would pay for her education? I realized I had to act,” he added.
The 58-year-old who has previously made contact with Boko Haram, “was able to negotiate the release of 21 girls.
“Last May he had a major breakthrough, when another 82 girls were set free.”
In total 106 Chibok girls have been returned to their families.
The President Muhammadu Buhari’s government recaptured Sambisa, a stronghold of the terrorist last year.