Boko Haram frees 82 more Chibok Girls

(May 7, 2017) One thousand, one hundred and eighteen days after their abduction by the Boko Haram terror group, 82 more more of the Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, students walked into freedom.

The girls were among the 227 kidnapped from their dormitory on the night of April 14, 2014.

They were let go by their abductors after another lengthy round of negotiations with the federal government, seven months after the release of the first batch of the kidnapped girls.

Twenty-one were in that first batch freed in October last year.

The 82 girls were released at Banki at the Nigeria/Cameroun border and are currently in the custody of security agencies the Nigerian Army.

The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group which has been in the fore front of the agitation of the rescue of the girls said last night that it was awaiting confirmation of the girls’ release.

Its spokesperson, Sesugh Akume, said: “We have been made aware of the yet-to-be-confirmed news that a number of our missing 195 Chibok girls in captivity have been released through negotiation.

“It would be recalled that in October last year when the 21 were released, the Federal Government, specifically the Presidency said that 83 more were ‘on their way’.

“We await official confirmation from the Federal Government and a release of their names. We shall go to work to confirm the news to verify its authenticity, and communicate same to the public.

“Our hopes and expectations are high as we look forward to this news being true and confirmed.”

Leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili said she was praying hard that report of the release of 80 Chibok girls by Boko Haram group “is true.”

“You CAN’T imagine how HARD my heart is beating right now as I furiously PRAY that this news of release of 80 of OUR #ChibokGirls is true,” Ezekwesili wrote on her Twitter handle, Obyezeks.

“None of us CAN EVER imagine how 80 parents of OUR #ChibokGirls would feel should that news be TRUE. NO. ONLY THEY CAN KNOW THAT FEELING,” she added in another tweet.

Only last month during the third anniversary of the abduction of the girls, the group came hard on the federal government for “not doing enough to rescue the girls from Boko Haram.”

It blasted President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly failing to fulfil his election promise to get the girls out of bondage.

The president denied the allegation and declared that as a parent, “I feel what you feel.”

He said his government was in continuous negotiations through international intermediaries with the captors.

Buhari vowed that his administration would do everything necessary to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.

In a message to mark the third anniversary of the abduction Buhari said he was willing to bend over backwards to make the abductors of the girls release them.

His words: “like I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is willing to bend over backwards to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.

“We have reached out to their captors through local and international intermediaries, and we are ever ready to do everything within our means to ensure the safe release of all the girls.

“I wish to reassure the parents of the Chibok girls, all well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and the international community that as a government, we are unrelenting on the issue of the safe return of our children.

“I trust God that soon, our collective efforts will be rewarded with the safe return of our schoolgirls to their families, friends and their communities.’’

He stated that Nigerians had every reason to celebrate the return of 24 of the Chibok schoolgirls as well as thousands of other Nigerians who were abducted by the terrorists.

He said government was in constant touch through negotiations and local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed.

“As a parent, I am eternally grateful to God that some of the girls were found alive and have been reunited with their families,’’ he added.

According to the President, government is doing all within its powers to reintegrate the freed girls to normal life.

He expressed appreciation to the parents and families of the abducted girls that had endured three years of agony and waiting for the return of their children.

He appealed to the parents and all Nigerians not to lose hope on the return of the remaining schoolgirls.

The Nigerian military recaptured Banki in September 2015 after fierce battles with the insurgents.

The Defence Headquarters had in 2015 described the town as a major centre of   economic and trading activities between Nigeria, Cameroon and Central African countries.

It said:”The recapture of the strategic town was facilitated by concerted efforts of the Nigerian Air Force and close liaison with the Cameroon’s Army.

“The recapture of this town apart restoring Nigeria’s territory law, would improve the economic activities in that area.”

The release of the first batch of the 21 Chibok girls last year was also effected in that town.

They were handed over to a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross who provided assistance during the transfer of the girls.

A few hours later this group of young girls landed in Abuja.

The government said at that time that negotiations with Boko Haram would continue to free the 197 students who were still missing.

 

“This time around, all the parties to the agreement strictly kept to the terms without leaks.”

The source confirmed that the girls were “set free in Banki town, which is a border town with Cameroon and Chad. In fact, on both sides of Banki, you might not know the difference between Nigerians and Cameroonians. This shows that the insurgents are still operating not only in Sambisa but some border villages.

“Banki also hosts an international cattle market. It cannot be ruled out as a strategic supply route for the insurgents.”

Asked which of the factions of Boko Haram granted freedom to the girls, the source added: “I cannot say now.”

Highly placed military sources have confirmed the release of a group of Chibok school girls abducted three years ago by the Boko Haram Terrorists.

The source however could not put a figure to the number of girls released saying “they are more than 50.”

However, Military authorities told The Nation that the news of the release cannot yet be confirmed.

Director Defence Information (DDI), Major General John Enenche said he was not aware of the information and promised to call back as soon as he was briefed.

Also, calls to the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman were not picked.

But sources say the girls are already in Banki village which is close to the Cameroon border. It was also learnt that the girls will be airlifted by the Nigerian Air Force Mi-35M gun ship helicopter to a safe location.

The Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, who took part in previous talks to free the girls, was quoted yesterday by PREMIUM TIMES as saying he was aware that “about 85% negotiations had been completed last night (Friday).”

“Although I did not participate in the negotiations, but, I am fully in the know of what was going on,” he said, after tweeting earlier in the day: “Chibok girls shall be free Insha Allah.”

The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group which has been in the fore front of the agitation of the rescue of the girls said last night that it was awaiting confirmation of the girls’ release.

Its spokesperson, Sesugh Akume, said: “We have been made aware of the yet-to-be-confirmed news that a number of our missing 195 Chibok girls in captivity have been released through negotiation.

“It would be recalled that in October last year when the 21 were released, the Federal Government, specifically the Presidency said that 83 more were ‘on their way’.

“We await official confirmation from the Federal Government and a release of their names. We shall go to work to confirm the news to verify its authenticity, and communicate same to the public.

“Our hopes and expectations are high as we look forward to this news being true and confirmed.”

Leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili said she was praying hard that report of the release of 80 Chibok girls by Boko Haram group “is true.”

“You CAN’T imagine how HARD my heart is beating right now as I furiously PRAY that this news of release of 80 of OUR #ChibokGirls is true,” Ezekwesili wrote on her Twitter handle, Obyezeks.

“None of us can ever imagine how 80 parents of OUR #ChibokGirls would feel should that news be TRUE. NO. ONLY THEY CAN KNOW THAT FEELING,” she added in another tweet.

Only last month during the third anniversary of the abduction of the girls, the group came hard on the federal government for “not doing enough to rescue the girls from Boko Haram.”

It blasted President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly failing to fulfil his election promise to get the girls out of bondage.

The president denied the allegation and declared that as a parent, “I feel what you feel.”

He said his government was in continuous negotiations through international intermediaries with the captors.

Buhari vowed that his administration would do everything necessary to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.

In a message to mark the third anniversary of the abduction Buhari said he was willing to bend over backwards to make the abductors of the girls release them.

His words: “like I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is willing to bend over backwards to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.

“We have reached out to their captors through local and international intermediaries, and we are ever ready to do everything within our means to ensure the safe release of all the girls.

“I wish to reassure the parents of the Chibok girls, all well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and the international community that as a government, we are unrelenting on the issue of the safe return of our children.

“I trust God that soon, our collective efforts will be rewarded with the safe return of our schoolgirls to their families, friends and their communities.’’

He stated that Nigerians had every reason to celebrate the return of 24 of the Chibok schoolgirls as well as thousands of other Nigerians who were abducted by the terrorists.

He said government was in constant touch through negotiations and local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed.

“As a parent, I am eternally grateful to God that some of the girls were found alive and have been reunited with their families,’’ he added.

According to the President, government is doing all within its powers to reintegrate the freed girls to normal life.

He expressed appreciation to the parents and families of the abducted girls that had endured three years of agony and waiting for the return of their children.

He appealed to the parents and all Nigerians not to lose hope on the return of the remaining schoolgirls.

The Nigerian military recaptured Banki in September 2015 after fierce battles with the insurgents.

The Defence Headquarters had in 2015 described the town as a major centre of   economic and trading activities between Nigeria, Cameroon and Central African countries.

It said:”The recapture of the strategic town was facilitated by concerted efforts of the Nigerian Air Force and close liaison with the Cameroon’s Army.

“The recapture of this town apart restoring Nigeria’s territory law, would improve the economic activities in that area.”

The release of the first batch of the 21 Chibok girls last year was also effected in that town.

They were handed over to a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross who provided assistance during the transfer of the girls.

A few hours later this group of young girls landed in Abuja.

The government said at that time that negotiations with Boko Haram would continue to free the 197 students who were still missing.

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