Buhari administration confirms release of 21 Chibok girls

One of the released Chibok girls carrying her baby
One of the released Chibok girls carrying her baby

Garba Shehu, Special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, tweeted twenty-one of the Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been freed.

He said on Tweeter: “It is confirmed that 21 of the missing Chibok Girls have been released and are in the custody of the Department of State Services.”

In other tweets, Sheu says: “The release of the girls, in a limited number is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government. The negotiations will continue.”

He confirms President Buari, who took off today on a state visit to Germany, has been briefed of the development by the director-general of DSS, Lawal Daura.

Here are the names of the 21 girls,mostly with Christian names, made available by the government:

1. Mary Usman Bulama
2. Jummai John
3. Blessing Abana
4. Lugwa Sanda
5. Comfort Habila
6. Maryam Basheer
7. Comfort Amos
8. Glory Mainta
9. Saratu Emannuel
10. Deborah Ja’afaru
11. Rahab Ibrahim
12. Helen Musa
13. Maryamu Lawan
14. Rebecca Ibrahim
15. Asabe Goni
16. Deborah Andrawus
17. Agnes Gapani
18. Saratu Markus
19. Glory Dama
20. Pindah Nuhu
21. Rebecca Mallam

After the girls have rested, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led some top government officials to visit the girls at the DSS Medical Centre, Airport Road, Abuja, where they are currently receiving medical attention. One of the 21 released Chibok girls has a baby. Osinbajo, was accompanied by the Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura;Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Zaynab Ahmed; the Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection Plan, Mrs. Maryam Uwais; Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed; and Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan.

Osinbajo told journalists that the Federal Government did not swap any Boko Haram detainee for the release of the girls. He said:

“There was no exchange of any kind. There was no swap of any kind. Even when we started negotiations, we said we would consider all options available to us. Absolutely, there was no exchange of any kind,”

When asked if the government would consider a swap for the release of the remaining girls still in captivity, Osinbajo said the government is weighing all available options with caution and “in doing so, however, the security and safety of the country would be considered.“But what has happened and the process we have begun is one which has not involved any type of swap of Boko Haram commanders or any militant in any way,”he said. He added: “We must be sensitive to the fact that the government wants these girls back and alive. Again, we must balance this against the security and safety of the country.”

He said the government would use the process that was used for the release of the 21 girls to secure the release of the remaining over 190 girls still in Boko Haram captivity.

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