What Buhari told 82 freed Chibok Girls

Lucy Bush
May 8, 2017

The campaign for the release of the almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls seized three years ago by Boko Haram says it is glad Nigeria's government is committed to freeing the 113 girls still unaccounted for.

Five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the freedom of 82 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group three years ago, a Nigerian government official said Sunday, as the girls were expected to meet with the country's president and their families.

After Saturday's release, 113 schoolgirls remain unaccounted for. October 13, 2016: Spokesman for Nigeria's president confirms 21 Chibok girls have been freed, a result of government negotiations with Boko Haram.

President Buhari said that the girls were freed in a prison swap, in exchange of detained suspected extremists - in the largest negotiated release so far of the mass abduction.

The ICRC tweet shows a line of girls wearing shirts with the Red Cross logo walking across a runway to a waiting helicopter.

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The presidency had announced late Saturday that months of talks with the jihadists had "yielded results" some six months after 21 other Chibok girls were freed with the help of the ICRC and the Swiss government.

Buhari described the girls' freedom as a "pleasant anniversary gift" to Nigerians, a reference for the second anniversary of his swearing as president on May 29.

Nigerians gathered in front of news stands on Monday looking at the names of the freed schoolgirls in local papers. Now parents will know if they should make the journey to see their daughters.

Long-suffering family members said they were eagerly awaiting a list of names of the girls and their "hopes and expectations are high". It is feared that other girls were strapped with explosives and sent on missions as suicide bombers. The kidnapping shocked the world and put tremendous pressure on Nigeria's government to counter Boko Haram and free thousands of its captives.

The girls were released near the town of Banki in Borno state near Cameroon and will be transported to the capital, Abuja. On Friday, the United States and Britain issued warnings that the extremist group was actively planning to kidnap foreigners in an area of Borno state "along the Kumshe-Banki axis".

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"This is a very, very exciting news for us that we have over 80 of our girls coming back again", Bukky Shonibare with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign told Sky TV.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it acted as a neutral intermediary and transported the 82 freed Chibok schoolgirls into the hands of Nigeria's government.

"These girls have been in captivity for three years and they've gone through very hard, challenging and horrendous experiences". Its insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes, with millions facing starvation.

"The Boko haram leaders said as the negotiation continue, no girl will be forced to renounce "her husband" the same way they were not compelled to renounce their faith in the last three years", he said.

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