The Nigerian government has secured the release of 21 Chibok girls who were abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
This development comes up nearly after two and a half years of the kidnap of the 300 girls under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokeman Garba Shehu said in a series of tweets “The release of the girls, in a limited number, is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram, brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government,”
Garba affirmed that “The negotiations will continue.”
The girls were released around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday after which they were flown to Kaduna before being flown to Abuja on an undisclosed date.
Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, said at a news conference in Abuja, “Ahead of their arrival, we have assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts, etc., to properly examine the girls, especially because they have been in captivity for so long.”
“They will also be adequately debriefed. We have the list of the 21 girls, but we are now contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification exercise. As soon as that is concluded, we will release the names to the public,” he concluded.
Mr. Mohammed denied preliminary reports that Boko Haram fighters might have been released in exchange for the girls.
“Please note that this is not a swap,” he said. “It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides. We see this as a credible first step in the eventual release of all the Chibok girls in captivity. It is also a major step in confidence-building between us as a government and the Boko Haram leadership on the issue of the Chibok girls.”
Relatives of the girls rejoiced, even though they did not know if their kin were among the freed.