The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has confirmed the release of 21 girls out of the over 200 school girls abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok in April 2014.
The Minister, at a press conference in Abuja stated that the Federal Government secured the release of girls through the collaborative efforts of the security agencies, a friendly European country and a renowned international humanitarian organisation.
The Minister also debunked the reports that four Boko Haram members were released in exchange for the girls’ release.
He said that the release secured by the government was based on confidence and not a swap arrangement with the terrorists group.
“This is not a swap. This was a release which was effected because over time, we succeeded in confidence building.
“This particular release is significant because it’s just a first step in what we believe will lead to the eventual release of all our girls in custody. It is significant also because we have been able to establish more than ever before a confidence in both the leadership of Boko Haram and Nigerians.
“I am not aware of any monetary transaction,” he said.
The names of the girls has been release by the Office of the Vice President, after his visit to the girls at the SSS hospital in Abuja.
Carrot and Stick
The Minister also clarified if the military action against the Boko Haram would seize owing to the release of the girls.
“When you are fighting insurgency, it’s a combination of carrot and stick. The release of these girls does not mean the end to military operations. But it could mean a new phase in the conduct of the war against terror,” he said.
Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Thursday, confirmed the release of the 21 Chibok girls.
He said that the release of the girls, in a limited number, was the outcome of negotiations between the Nigerian government and the Boko Haram, brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss Government.
The Federal Government had since the abduction of the over 200 school girls in 2014 tried several options to secure their release, including the use of military force and negotiations with the Boko Haram group.
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.