LAGOS Boko Haram has released 82 girls kidnapped in 2014 in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok in exchange for members of the militant group held by authorities, the Nigerian presidency said on Saturday.
Nigeria thanked Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross for helping to release the girls in “lenghty negotiations”, the presidency said on its Twitter account.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed the latest release of 82 Chibok girls that were held captive by Boko Haram.
The president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement in the early hours of Sunday that the girls were exchanged for some Boko Haram “suspects” held by the government.
He did not provide number or names of the Boko Haram suspects swapped for the girls.
The girls were released on Saturday, Mr. Shehu said, adding that they are to arrive Abuja today, Sunday, where they will be received by President Buhari.
He said the president was kept abreast of every negotiation and operation that led to the girls’ release.
“President Muhammadu Buhari expresses his deep gratitude to all who played a part in ensuring the success of this operation, as follows: Security agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and local and international NGOs,” Mr. Shehu said.
The statement said Mr. Buhari was committed to ensuring the safe return of the Chibok girls, and all other Boko Haram captives.
The released girls are among the over 270 abducted from their dormitories in a government secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 as they prepared to write their final exams.
Twenty one of them were earlier released last October after negotiations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.
Two other girls were found separately, in addition to those who escaped on the night of their abduction.
With the latest release, about 80 Chibok girls are now being held by the Boko Haram.