Controversy as Boko Haram frees 21 Chibok school girls

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• Some return with pregnancies, babies
• FG to conduct medical tests on victims

It was freedom at last yesterday for 21 secondary school girls who were abducted from Chibok community in Borno State 30 months ago by Boko Haram.

President Muhammadu Buhari immediately pledged to secure ‘all Nigerians’ just as the release of the girls by the terrorists became a subject of controversy.

However, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Federal Ministry of Information, in their reactions to reports by the international media, said the Nigerian government did not enter a swap deal and gave nothing in exchange for the girls who were kidnapped while writing their Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (SSCE) in the Northeast’s Christian community.

Shortly before departing the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja yesterday for security talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Buhari expressed delight over the release of the girls. “To Nigerians all over, it is our responsibility and we will continue to secure them wherever they are,” the President pledged.

There were speculations that some of the girls, who had long been converted to Islam and married off to their captors, could be pregnant, prompting assurances from Information Minister Lai Mohammed that adequate medical checks would be conducted. Photographs of some of the girls either betrayed pregnancy or showed they were already mothers.

The girls, as of last night, were still in the custody of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS). The BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group celebrated the 21 girls and called for the release of the remaining 197 still in Boko Haram captivity.

The BBOG, in response to reports of the negotiated release, said the development confirmed its position on the capacity of government to rescue the Chibok girls.

“While awaiting further details, we take this opportunity to salute the work of our security services at the frontlines, the commitment, resilience and tireless efforts of our members of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the civilian JTF,” the group said.

No government official was willing to speak on record over the health status of the girls as Lai Mohammed disclosed that when they arrive in Abuja, they would undergo extensive examinations.

There had been speculations that the terrorist group had asked for a huge sum of money running into hundreds of billions of naira which the government allegedly turned down. Another speculation was that the group asked for a swap of some of its men in detention.

Some weeks ago, the speculations led to stories in the media that the Suleja Catholic Church bomber, Kabiru Sokoto, had been set free. Agency reports monitored said some girls were exchanged for four Boko Haram prisoners in Banki, Borno State.

“The girls were brought to Kumshe, which is 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Banki where a military base is stationed, in ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) vehicles,” according to Agence France Presse (AFP), quoting a source.

“The four Boko Haram militants were brought to Banki from Maiduguri in a military helicopter from where they were driven to Kumshe in ICRC vehicles.”

From Kumshe, the girls were taken by helicopter to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, the agency report said further.

“The 21 girls arrived in Banki about 3:00 am (0200 GMT) where they found a military helicopter waiting. They were immediately ushered into the helicopter and flown to Maiduguri,” AFP quoted another source.

Osinbajo indicated that the government was also ready to consider several other options to rescue the remaining girls.

Later, Lai Mohammed, DG of DSS, Lawal Daura, Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, and Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Ahmed Zainab, among others accompanied Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo, to the headquarters of the DSS to officially receive the girls.

Briefing State House correspondents last night, Osinbajo said: “There was no exchange of any kind, but government would use the same template to facilitate the release of the remaining abducted girls.”

According to him, the government has already started negotiations.

Mohammed said that the release of the girls was the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of the President to secure their safe release 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,” he stressed.

The minister disclosed that ahead of the girls’ arrival in Abuja yesterday, the government had assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts and others to properly examine them. “They will also be adequately debriefed,” he noted.

Mohammed said the government had the list of the 21 girls but was contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification and as soon as it was concluded, the names would be released to the public.

He gave an insight into how the girls were released: “Gentlemen, 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 organisation. The DSS was supported by the military.

“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.”

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  • Basil Ogbanufe

    What about their parents?

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    lt is clear insanity on the part of Buhari to have told the world that most of the girls have been converted to lslam and married to members of the ‘defeated’ Boko Haram under the present circumstance. The controversy will unveil further when Boko Haram speaks to the world. Islam is evil.

    • emeka

      From their names you can see that
      the Chibok girls are Christian girls. This is food for thought but the govt keeps playing this down. We have not heard the last of the Chibok saga.

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        You are right my brother let’s wait

      • Don_C

        Where are the islamic clothes they were wearing? They staged this rubbish. Where and how in the North could they have hidden them?


      Mad Osanebi, tell me you believe the terrorist than your government. Your answer places you where you belong indirectly or directly.

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    lt is clear insanity on the part of Buhari to have told the world that most of the girls have been converted to lslam and married to members of the ‘defeated’ Boko Haram under the present circumstance. The controversy will unveil further when Boko Haram speaks to the world. Islam is evil.

  • Emeka

    I hope the Vice President, a well known servant of God through our Lord Jesus Christ has not joined the politicians in telling bare faced lies just to hide their failures. If he says there was neither a swap nor a payment of huge sums of money to Boko Haram evil people and it turns out that either or both happened, then the vice president should go to the Almighty God and ask for forgiveness in the Name of the Father (God), The Son(Our Lord Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit (The Holy Ghost).


      Doubting Thomas, Emeka. Whether or not there was a swap or ransom, Nigeria is happy that these innocent girls were released. If your sister is one of the captured girls, you would not speak evil in disguise of preaching to anointed man of God and ordained leader of this great nation-Nigeria.

    • Ade Richie

      Emeka am sure if your sister or daughter is among the girls you wont mind selling Nigeria to secure them. this is a result let praise it.

      • Don_C

        Its not about selling but saying the truth. No Chibok girl was missing. This is stage managed.

  • kalu9909

    There is nothing wrong in the search for crude oil deposit in the north as part of diversification, which if successful would enhance our income generation for development. But the timing is not in the best interest of the country considering the lean purse of the country and the economic recession bedeviling the economy presently. It is on record that so much has been sunk in the search for oil in the past without success due to the findings were not in commercial quantity. We all know the politics that is going on in Nigeria over the years, and the quest to find oil in the north is like a political consideration rather than economic and it is task that must be done. The present administration should have concentrated more on the development of agriculture, the area the north has comparative advantage rather than sinking fund on a project that would not yield much dividend. Well, since the north has the say in all the policy issues, good luck to them.

    • emeka

      Even when you find oil in the North you will still evacuate it through pipelines to the sea in the south or to the red Sea and Mediterranean seas in the north. The choice is yours but believe me the pipes will still be at the mercy of oil thieves and maybe herdsmen.

  • Biola Bello

    I look at these girls (children), and I am filled with tears. Not because of what Boko Haram did, but imagining what these innocent kids have gone through as a result of the failure of the political class. Looking at them, the bones sticking out of their necks, the hunger in their eyes, not to mention the emotional and metal torture they have endured. This is deeply hurting.
    Yet, some people says this is a fake and no girl was ever captured by BH. Nothing hurts more than denying a blatant truth right before your eyes.

  • pmagroup

    Controversy, yes because everything that is in Nigeria and coming from Nigeria is all Controversy, but if i may ask, why do they still wear the same cloths since.

  • Julius Olaniyi Adekeye

    Nigeria unnecessarily kept the BH terror for too long, hence the BH capitalised on their release in exchange for the school girls. Hope the freed fighters will not do more harm to Nigeria.

  • Rev

    Look at what the desperation for this mundane terrestrial power can do…