Chibok schoolgirls released in exchange for detained Boko Haram suspects

While commending President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government and all the other partners, the group also believes that the rehabilitation of the girls as well as reuniting them with their parents is another key step that should be taken immediately.

In 2014 around 220 students were abducted from a secondary school in the north eastern town of Chibok, sparking a global campaign "bringbackourgirls".

The group of 82 schoolgirls released by Boko Haram met Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidency on Sunday.

"We've always made it clear that we will do everything in our power to ensure the freedom & safe return of our daughters & of all [Boko Haram] captives", Buhari said on his Twitter account. Buhari, who has missed three straight weekly Cabinet meetings and spent a month and a half in London on medical leave earlier this year, said he'd never been as sick in his life.

Reacting to the news of the girls released, Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani said some Boko Haram prisoners were swapped for the release of the girls.

The Nigerian government said in a statement that it exchanged Boko Haram suspects being held for the girls but did not reveal their identities nor the number of the suspects freed. At the meeting, the president welcomed the girls in the capital city of Abuja and said: "I can not express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom".

As many as 50 girls escaped in 2014 in a raid and an additional 21 girls were released in October past year after negotiations with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Others did not want to come home because they'd been radicalized by their captors, they said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Esther Yakubu, a woman who says one of her daughter is missing waits for news if she is among the girls released in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday, May.

The names of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls were released on Monday, and parents anxiously scanned the list to see if their daughters were among those who were freed three years after their capture. "We hope the remaining girls will soon be released".

This brings to 103 the girls already freed by the Boko Haram militants.

Neither the government nor Boko Haram, which has links to the Islamic State group, gave details about the exchange.

ICRC had played a similar role past year October, when Nigeria got the first batch of 21 Chibok girls released.

  • Leroy Wright