21 Chibok Girls Released From Boko Haram Clutches
The Spokesman for Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, has confirmed that 21 out of the Chibok girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram militants, have been released.
According to a statement by Garba Shehu, (the President’s Spokesman), the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, has already briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the development.
He said that 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.
The statement added that the President welcomes the release of the girls but cautioned Nigerians to be mindful of the fact that more than 30,000 fellow citizens were killed via terrorism.
The DSS DG told the President that he wanted the girls to have some rest, as all of them have returned very tired as a result of the rescue process, before he hands them over to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Sources close to the Borno state government told Channels Television that some girls were brought to the Air Force Hospital in Maiduguri.
The girls are said to be undergoing screening to determine their state of health as well as their profile.
On April 14, 2014, over 200 girls were abducted from their hostels at Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state.
In the heat of the over six-year insurgency, Borno State, in northeast Nigeria became a strong hold of the Boko Haram.
Since the abduction of the girls, pressure has been mounted on the Federal Government to rescue them, including demands for a swap with members of Boko Haram in detention.
Although it is yet to be confirmed if an actual swap took place, the news is coming shortly after President Buhari agreed to the idea of swapping Boko Haram prisoners for the Chibok girls in August.
However, that was on the condition that the group should be able to list those they wanted released and then come out to discuss with the Federal Government.
At the recently concluded 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the President reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to rescuing the girls.
In his address, he stated that “one of our major aims is to rescue the Chibok girls alive and unharmed”.
The girls’ abduction had raised a world-wide condemnation including the UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon and U.S First Lady Michelle Obama, culminating in the formation of the group, #BringBackOurGirls, that have been at the forefront of pushing for the release of the girls.
One of the abducted girls, Aminat Ali Nkeki was rescued in May 2016 during a raid on Sambisa forest by the military.
Proof of Life
Also in August, the terrorist group Boko Haram released a ‘proof of life’ video of the girls.
This was the third in a series of videos released by the group.
The Video showed a gun-toting insurgent, carrying out a mock interview with one of the girls, who is being prompted to ask the government to release imprisoned Boko Haram fighters in return for the girls’ freedom.
Another scene in the video also showed bodies on the ground, which in attempts to spur government reaction, the group claimed were bodies of girls killed by military airstrikes.
The military in reaction to this, countered the claims of the group that about 40 of the girls had been killed in airstrikes during a bombardment by the Air-Force.
Commander of the counter-insurgency war, Major General Lucky Irabor said “It’s only a matter of common sense that those dead bodies shown on the ground there do not even give indication as to the claim which Boko Haram gave,”
The military then warned the outlawed Boko Haram group that they would be punished for killing the girl.