Government says released of Chibok girls not swap deal

Solomon Chung & Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Government says the 21 freed Chibok girls were released based on negotiation and not a swap deal as being reported in some section of the media.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed revealed that after their release, the girls were taken to Kaduna State North-West Nigeria.

The Minister stated this at a world press conference in Abuja.

He stated that the government has assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts to properly examine the girls.

“Please note that this is not a swap. It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides,” he emphasised.

He said the Department of State Services (DSS) pursued the lead in collaboration with the Nigerian Security Services, the government of Switzerland and the International Community.

 “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,” the Minister said.

The government described the event 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,” he concluded.

The names of the 21 Chibok girls who were released are:

1.Mary Usman Bulama
2.Jumai John
3.Blessing Abana
4.Luggwa Sanda
5.Comfort Habila
6.Maryam Basheer
7.Comfort Amos
8.Glory Mainta
9.Saratu Emmanuel
10.Deborah Ja’afaru
11.Rahab Ibrahim
12.Helin 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

Senate President lauds release
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has commended President Muhammadu Buhari, Security Services, the International Community and other agencies for the combined efforts that led to the release of the 21 Chibok schoolgirls.

Dr. Saraki who made the commendation at the end of Thursday’s plenary said: “We join all Nigerians to rejoice on the return of our daughters. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those who have returned and those girls who remain in the hands of the terrorists. It is our hope that the release of more of the girls is imminent and that our nation remains vigilant in the face of the continued crisis in North East Nigeria.”

“The release of the 21 girls is a testament to the perseverance of our men and women in uniform, the civilian joint task force and a clear indication that this government has been relentless in securing their release. Moving forward, we need to ensure that the girls that have been returned back to us are re-united with their families and rehabilitated to become full members of our society.”

“We must also not take our foot off the gas, Nigerians must continue to be united and insistent on the safe return of the other girls that are still in the hands of Boko Haram,” he said.

The Senate President restated the commitment of the 8th Senate to continue supporting the Nigerian government to secure the release of the Chibok girls, highlighting the fact that their abduction still marks a dark notch in the history of the country.

“On our part, the Nigerian Senate has been clear that we will continue to do everything within our powers to support efforts aimed at securing the release of the rest of the girls,” Saraki said.