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 in Chibok two years ago.
The Minister at a press conference in Abuja stated that the federal government secured the release of the girls through the collaborative efforts of the security agencies, a friendly European country and a renowned International Humanitarian Organisation.
“We can confirm that 21 of the girls were released, safely, to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release.
“This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr. President to secure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families.
“It is also a result of the round-the-clock efforts by the Administration to put a closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls.
“We expect the released girls to land in Abuja shortly. 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.
“As we have always said, we have been working on the safe release of the girls and following all the leads available.
“In this instance, the moment we had a credible lead, Mr President gave the green-light to the DSS to pursue it. We can confirm that the DSS pursued the lead in collaboration with a friendly European country and a renowned international humanitarian organization. The DSS was supported by the military,” he stated.
The Minister however clarified that the release secured by the government is based on confidence and not a swap arrangement with the terrorists group.
He added that as soon as the necessary confidence was built on both sides, the parties agreed on the date and the location of the release of the 21 girls.
“Please note that this is not a swap. 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.
“We want to thank all Nigerians for their support and for never losing confidence in the ability of Mr. President to secure the safe release of our Chibok Girls,” he concluded.