President Mohammadu Buhari is expected today, Sunday, to receive 82 Chibok girls released by the dreaded proscribed Islamist sect, Boko Haram, in exchange for an unspecified number of their key members who had been detained by the federal government.
The Chibok girls’ release on Saturday, according to presidency, was outcome of protracted and fruitful negotiations facilitated by international organisations.
The Senior Special Adviser on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, had yesterday’s night in a statement said “after months of patient negotiations, our security agencies have taken back these abducted girls in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities.”
Further, Shehu assured that the Girls were due today,Sunday, in Abuja to be received by the President at the presidential villa.
There were conflicting reports about the exact number of Chibok girls released on Saturday as there was indication that only 62 out of the girls being held by Boko Haram since April 14, 2014 were freed.
It would be recalled that in a midnight raid, members of Boko Haram in military uniforms stormed Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, and abducted over 200 young school girls.
While some of the abducted girls had died, some escaped and traced their way back just as Boko Haram had been releasing in small batches others still being held captive.
The latest number of release was the largest so far and for the first time, the government admitted that they were released in exchange for freeing of detained members of Boko Haram.
The full details of the conditions which facilitated the latest release were not made known.
President Buhari has expressed gratitude to security agencies, the military, the government of Switzerland, the Red Cross, local and international Non-Governmental Organisations who were co-facilitators in the successful negotiations.
Shehu recalled that after 21 girls were released in October last year, the President directed the security agencies to continue in earnest until all others being held were released and reunited with their families.
He said since then, the President had been receiving full reports from the Director-General of the State Security Services at each stage of the negotiations.