Truth about Boko Haram’s release of 82 Chibok girls
Details of the high-wire negotiations and conciliation that
dovetailed into freedom, weekend, for 82 of the abducted
Chibok School girls emerged, yesterday.
Apart from releasing some Boko Haram suspects, as confirmed
by President Muhammadu Buhari and Chairman, Senate Committee on
Foreign and Local Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, it was gathered that
some money was also spent to ease the process. The release brings
to 103 the number of Chibok girls so far freed, apart from those who
escaped on their own since abduction on April 14, 2014. The development
, which elicited celebrations in Chibok community of Borno State, is
generating commendation for President Buhari, whose Chief of Staff,
Abba Kyari, received the girls in Abuja, yesterday. Among those who
expressed joy and saluted the President for the feat were Senate
President Bukola Saraki; House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu
Dogara; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Kashim
Shettima of Borno State; All Progressives Congress, APC; Bring Back
Our Girls group, BBOG; Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF; Geneva- based
Industrial Global Union; and President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies,
Mrs Laura Boldrini, among others.
How we got them released – Buhari
President Buhari said that the government swapped the 82 Chibok
girls for Boko Haram “suspects’’ in a statement by his spokesperson,
Mallam Garba Shehu.
Although he did not provide the number or names of the Boko Haram
suspects swapped for the girls, Shehu said that the President was kept
abreast of every negotiation and operation that led to the girls’ release.
“President Muhammadu Buhari expresses his deep gratitude to all who
played a part in ensuring the success of this operation, as follows: Security
agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International
Committee of the Red Cross, and local and international NGOs,” he
It further stated that President Buhari was committed to ensuring
the safe return of the Chibok girls, and all other Boko Haram captives.
Buhari received the girls at the Presidential Villa. Before then,
the girls had been received at the airport by Chief of Staff to the
President, Mallam Abba Kyari.
Five persons freed in exchange – Sani
However, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), said that
security agencies secured the release of 82 Chibok girls in exchange
for five persons believed to be Boko Haram prisoners. Sani, who noted
that no price was too high for the release of the girls, said, “The swap
commanders are five, and not two as reported.
“The Chibok girls release will partially clear the dark cloud of moral
guilt that hangs over the sky of our country. The negotiators never
gave up, the negotiators will continue for the next set after the one
secured are made public.
“It is credible that 82 girls have been released; all in good condition
with the exception of one with fracture on the hand and one with
crutches.” Military sources confirmed the use of money and release of
detained Boko Haram commanders as bargaining chips and disclosed
that the insurgents who had been reluctant in the negotiation with the
Federal Government team had to give in, with support of the International
Red Cross on seeing that troops were closing in on their remaining hideouts
inside Sambisa Forest. Recalling the destruction of ‘Camp Zairo,’ which
was the former control base of the group, the source said, the mop-up
operation being intensified on remaining hideouts in the vast forest in
‘Operation Deep Punch’, has put the terrorists group in great disadvantage
. “Sensing that time was almost up on them and coupled with the fact that
they have lost almost all their armoury, logistics holding and most supply
routes for food and other necessities, the remnants of the Commanders
decided to cash in on the negotiation not only to have their commanders
released but also to make brisk money with which they feel they can
either re-launch themselves or move away into other climes. When
told that a faction of the terrorist group is believed to have released
the Chibok girls, the source said it was the Shekau faction, noting
that the Boko Haram leader’s faction had been seriously degraded
and were looking for any means to remain relevant. Asked if the
commanders exchanged for the girls were released from detention
centres in Maimalari cantonment, Makurdi or elsewhere, the source
said some of them were moved from detention centres in the FCT
and Borno State and that they were flown under cover by military aircraft
to Banki town and handed over to the terrorist group in exchange for the girls.
Chibok community celebrates, lauds FG
Delighted members of the Chibok community in Borno saluted the Federal
Government for securing the release of 82 girls and hoped that the remaining
113 girls will be freed.
A cross-section of those interviewed by the News Agency of Nigeria in Chibok, specifically
commended President Buhari for the gesture. “Sincerely speaking, I
am overwhelmed, this is the kind of information that we have long waited
for. We appreciate God first and appreciate the government, especially
the Presidency, which championed the negotiations,” Mr Ayuba Alamson,
a community leader said.
He expressed the hope that every other person in captivity of the
insurgents will also be set free. “We pray that this will lead to the
release of the remaining girls and all the people that have been captured
by the insurgents. Our prayer is all of them will be released,” Alamson
said. Alhaji Zanna Modu, the District Head of Chibok, corroborated
the feeling, saying: “We want to commend all those individuals, organizations
the Federal and the Borno State governments for their role in ensuring
the release of the girls.’’
Elder Solomon Samuel, also a community leader, described the
latest release of the girls as a big surprise. “Most peopl
e did not sleep, yesterday in Chibok. They were praying,
praising God and some were even shedding tears of joy because
of the news. I did not sleep until 1 am because of the report on
the release of the girls.
‘’Sincerely speaking, we cannot quantify the level of joy in the
community. We pray that the next information we will get is that
the remaining girls have been released. I want to call on all Boko
Haram members that violent campaign will not help them. It is high
time for them to embrace dialogue; let them surrender and embrace
dialogue so that peace will return,’’ he said.
BBOG lauds FG
The Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, movement also commended
President Buhari on the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
In a statement by its conveners, Aisha Yesufu and Oby
Ezekwesili, the BBOG described the release of the girls as
a “heartwarming development” and urged the Federal Government
to see to the release of the remaining girls “and other abducted
citizens of Nigeria.
“We are exceedingly delighted by this good news that has been long
awaited following last October when upon the release of our 21
Chibok girls, our federal government promised that; another 83
was being negotiated to be released very soon.
“We commend Mr president, the federal government and all the
other partners for this heartwarming development. We are also
glad that the statement from the presidency makes a strong
commitment to rescuing the remaining 113 of our Chibok girls
that are still captives of terrorists. We are eagerly looking forward
to the official release of the names of the 82 girls to enable us as usua
l verify them against the #ChibokGirls list generated by the presidential
Fact-finding committee on the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls (General
Ibrahim Sabo Committee) report of 20 June 2014. Once we are able to
do so, we shall communicate our findings to the public.”
APC, ACF, Atiku commend Buhari
The All Progressives Congress, APC, said that it received the news of the
girls freedom Saturday’s release with great joy and praised President
Buhari for the unprecedented feat.
The APC particularly commended “President Muhammadu Buhari for
his tenacity and dedication in ensuring the safe return of the Chibok girl
s who were abducted in 2014. This is further proof that we have a president
who is working the talk. Nigerians will recall that last year, government
secured the release of 20 girls,” it said in a statement by its Spokesperson,
APC also expressed its gratitude to all security organisations and
international agencies that have played various roles to secure the release
of the Chibok schoolgirls.
On his part, Abubakar in a statement said the girls’ freedom shows what
Nigeria can achieve as a nation when we unite as one people around a
common cause. “Nigerians stood together as a people and purposed to
free these girls,” he said.
Despite the many setbacks, hurdles and periods of discouragement,
the government, civil society and the citizens all stood together, and
today we have this victory that we are enjoying as one people,” he
said. In like manner, the Arewa Consultative Forum, in a statement
by its secretary, Muhammed Ibrahim Biu, noted that though the
period of negotiations for their release was painstaking and traumatic
not only to the government but the parents and Nigerians, the patience
and prayers of Nigerians have yielded some positive results. “ACF,
therefore, urges the government not to relent until all the girls in captivity
are secured and reunited with their families. ‘The secured girls should also
undergo proper medical, psychological treatments and de-radicalization process.”
Release of 82 Chibok girls, my administration’s second anniversary
gift to Nigeria –
President Buhari has said that the release of the 82 Chibok girls was his
government’s second anniversary gift to Nigeria.
The assertion was contained in his remarks at the reception of the girls in
his official residence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja Sunday evening.
He also vowed to ensure the release of the remaining girls. He said:
“This is a pleasant 2nd anniversary gift to the people of Nigeria.
“I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our
dear girls back to freedom. “On behalf of all Nigerians, I will like to
share my joy with you, your parents, your relatives, friends and government
of Borno State on regaining your freedom.
“The Federal Government will like to commend the security agencies,
the Red Cross, local authorities, local and foreign NGOs and
all those who contributed in one way or another to secure the release
of our Chibok Girls.
“Let me reassure Nigerians, especially relatives and friends of the remaining
girls that the Federal Government will spare no effort to see that they
and all other Nigerians who have been abducted safely regain their freedom.
“Finally, I am very pleased to have personally met you and let me
assure you that the Presidency will personally supervise the performance
of those entrusted with your welfare and commitments made by the Federal
Government on your health, education, security and general well-being.
“No human being should go through this kind of ordeal. The security
agencies and state governments should continue to provide special protection
to educational institutions vulnerable to this kind of outrage especially
in remote areas. “This administration is resolutely determined to
safeguard the security of all Nigerians at all times.
“Once again, I congratulate you and your parents on your safe return”.