Chibok Girls Released Through Confidence Building With Boko Haram, Not Swap – Fg
SAN FRANCISCO, October 13, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has debunked reports that there was a swap of Boko Haram prisoners with the 21 Chibok girls that were released from captivity earlier today, explaining that the missing pupils regained freedom through “confidence building” with the leadership of the Boko Haram sect.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this clarification at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
He stated that government has already assembled a team of medical doctors, social workers and psychologists to examine the girls by the time they arrive in Abuja on Thursday.
“We can confirm that 21 Chibok schoolgirls were release at 5:30am today, and flown to Kaduna. We expect them to arrive in Abuja soon. We have the names of the girls and we are now contacting their parents. As soon as that is done, we will release their names,” he said.
The minister insisted that the release of the missing schoolgirls was not secured by a prisoner-swap deal with Boko Haram, clarifying that “this is not a swap, but a release”.
He continued that “the release of these girls does not mean an end to military operations, but it is a new phase in the war against insurgency.”
Mohammed, who disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari was ready to do all he could to bring the insurgency to an end, said: “Mr President has made it clear that whatever he can do to bring the insurgency under control he will do it.”
When asked what the government gave in return for the girls, he maintained that nothing was given in exchange for them, stating that “people want to believe bad news than good news. The girls were released, there was no swap”.
The minister’s full speech is presented below…
Gentlemen of the press, good afternoon. We have called this press conference at a very short notice to brief you on the latest development in the saga of the abducted Chibok Girls.
We can confirm that 21 of the girls were released, safely, to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release. This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr. President to secure the safe release of the girls 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.
We expect the released girls to land in Abuja shortly. Ahead of their arrival, we have assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts, etc to properly examine the girls, especially because they have been in captivity for so long. They will also be adequately debriefed. We have the list of the 21 girls but we are now contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification exercise. As soon as that is concluded, we will release the names to the public.
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 organization. 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.
We see this as a credible first step in the eventual release of all the Chibok Girls in captivity. It is also a major step in confidence-building between us as a government and the Boko Haram leadership on the issue of the Chibok Girls.
We want to thank all Nigerians for their support and for never losing confidence in the ability of Mr. President to secure the safe release of our Chibok Girls.
Gentlemen of the press, I thank you all for your kind attention.
Story by Ugonnabo Ngwu.