Nigerians Celebrate Release Of 21 Abducted Chibok Girls | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerians Celebrate Release Of 21 Abducted Chibok Girls

Posted: Oct 16, 2016 at 3:56 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
Nigeria's Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, with some of the freed girls and their children in Abuja on October 13, 2016.  Jihadist group Boko Haram has freed 21 of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped more than two years ago, raising hopes for the release of the others, officials said Thursday. Local sources said their release was part of a prisoner swap with the Nigerian government, but the authorities denied doing a deal with Boko Haram.  / AFP PHOTO / PHILIP OJISUA

Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, examining the child of one of the freed girls  in Abuja

EJIKEME OMENAZU – LAGOS – The Boko Haram terrorists on Thursday October 13, 2016 released 21 of the 217 Chibok girls abducted on April 14, 2014 to the Nigerian Government.

The girls who were kidnapped from the Chibok Secondary School, Borno State in the North East, were in the process of writing their Senior Secondary School (SSSE), when the Boko Haram insurgents swooped on them, abducting about 270 of them. Their abduction provoked international outrage, even as more than 50 of them managed to escape

They were reportedly being kept at the Sambisa forest and all efforts of the military to trace them for a possible release failed. But, few of them found their way home, and had been undergoing processes of rehabilitation by the government.

The freed 21 girls were reportedly picked up by military helicopter from Banki area of Borno State where Boko Haram militants dropped them off early in the morning on Thursday.

The freed girls were said to have been handed over to Nigerian authorities in the early hours of Thursday after successful negotiations with the Boko Haram terrorists. According to reports, the girls were immediately taken to Abuja after a brief stopover in Kaduna.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, received the 21 school girls on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, who travelled to Germany on official trip.

This was as the government assured that a team of medical, psychological and trauma experts, as well as social workers had been put in place to help attend to the health needs of the girls.

Buhari Speaks

President Muhammadu Buhari reacted on his twitter handle thus: “As I depart Abuja for Germany on an official visit, I welcome the release of 21 of our Chibok Girls, following successful negotiations.

“The Department of State Services (DSS) has briefed me on the matter, and will continue to provide updates.

“Cooperation on the security & humanitarian situation in the Northeast will form a significant part of my discussions with Chancellor Merkel.”

Osinbajo On The Release

Prof. Osinbajo described the release of the school girls as exciting news for the whole country. Osinbajo spoke after visiting the girls at the medical centre of the Department of the State Security (DSS) located at the Airport Road, Abuja.

Osinbajo, who visited the girls in company of his wife disclosed that one of them had a baby. He said they were in good health considering the circumstances under which they had been held, adding that they were being well taken care of in the medical facility.

Osinbajo disclosed that the girls would be staying at the medical centre for some time until the government is satisfied about their health condition. He said that while there, they would be under going therapy and counselling.

He said: “Of course, we can imagine what they have gone through. So, we expect that a lot of psychological therapy and so much need to be done to get them back. Their parents will be coming to join them hopefully by tomorrow, October 14.

“We should congratulate ourselves and thank the Almighty God for the release and subsequent returning home of 21 of the Chibok girls who were taken almost two years ago. This is an exciting news for the whole country. Everyone is really excited, and I believe that we should be very thankful to God.

“I also want to thank the military and all the security services, DSS, intelligence services across the county as well as our friends and partners, internationally who have also helped in bringing happy ending of the captivity of at least 21 of the Chibok girls.”

Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media, also on Thursday, confirmed the release of the girls. Shehu said the release of the girls in a limited number was the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Information Minister, said there was a not swap arrangement during the negotiation that led to the release of the girls.

Names Of The Released Chibok Girls

The names of the 21 released Chibok school girls are: Deborah Ja’afaru; Maryam Lawan; Jummai John; Maryam Basheer; Comfort Amos; Blessing Abana; Luggwa Sanda; Comfort Habila;. Glory Mainta; Saratu Emmanuel; Maryamu Lawal; Rahab Ibrahim; Helen Musa; Rebecca Ibrahim; Asabe Goni; Deborah Andrawus; Agnes Gapani; Saratu Markus; Glory Dama, Pindah Nuhu and Rebecca Mallam.

BBOG Group, Ezekwesili Commend Military

The BringBackBackOurGirls Campaign Group, in its reaction, welcomed the news of the release of the Chibok girls, even as it commended the military for the efforts so far.

The group, led by Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Education Minister, had been at the forefront of the demand for the release of the Chibok school girls, internationalising the campaign, even having a face-off with the authorities on several occasions.

In a statement jointly signed by Co-conveners of the movement, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, the group said that the “wonderful development” confirmed what it had always known about the activity of the government to rescue the Chibok girls.

The group said that while it awaited further details, it saluted the work of the nation’s security services at the front lines: its commitment, resilience and tireless efforts of the members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the Civilian JTF.

The group also thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Swiss government and all negotiators involved in securing the release.

It, however, urged the international community to continue to support the government’s effort to rescue all other abducted Nigerians, so that parents, the Chibok community, the nation, and the world at large can finally put an end to the nightmare once and for all.

On a personal note, Ezekwesili expressed joy over the release of the girls. Ezekwesili, who took to her twitter handle @obyezeks, and said: “I can finally, NEVER EVER DELETE THIS TWEET.”

“I can only weep, right now. You know that kind of cry that is a mix of multiple emotions.

“Lord. Some of OUR Girls ARE BACK!!! B. A. C. K.!

“It is 4am in California and I can no longer sleep. Join me in singing the words of Psalm126…

“When the Lord turned again the CAPTIVITY…”

“As WE @BBOG_Nigeria wait for FG and #ChibokParents identification of OUR 21 #ChibokGirls.


“THANK YOU, @MBuhari .Thank you,” she tweeted.

Tinubu, APC Leader, Adds His Voice

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on his own expressed excitement over the release of 21 Chibok girls. He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the soldiers who, he stressed, had taken the pains to battle insurgency in the country.

He expressed the belief that Buhari would not rest until all the abducted Chibok girls are released. Tinubu added that the girls would commence their recovery and rehabilitation with the support of everyone in the country.

Tinubu, in a statement issued by Tunde Rahman, his media aide, said: “The news of the release of the 21 Chibok girls came to me as a delightful relief. I congratulate the families of these young ladies who have endured so much anxiety and pain on account of this horrendous experience. I am also grateful that these budding young stars now have the opportunity to again pursue their dreams and aspirations.

“I know there is road to recovery and readjustment ahead, but I am confident that the support of their families, our communities, and the assistance of our many collaborators at home, and internationally provide the tools required for this.

“I also congratulate and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his steadfastness and dogged effort in ensuring the release of these girls. I salute our gallant men and women in uniform who continue to make sacrifices on our behalf and have remained focused in the hot pursuit of the terrorists.

“I commend all Federal Government agencies – the DSS, the NIA – and indeed our lawmakers and our other partners who remained dogged and worked assiduously to secure this release.

“It is a great day for our nation and humanity when as shown there, we demonstrate that every life is vital and must be fought for, no matter what it takes. I know that the joy of this outcome will inspire and encourage the government and all concerned to do everything within human possibility to secure the release of our other daughters who are still in captivity.

“This President, I am assured, will not rest on his oars until all the girls in captivity are freed and returned to their families. Security and ending the Boko Haram insurgency remains atop the agenda of the APC-led government and I am happy that the evidence is there to see that progress is being made on this front.”

Odumakin, Falana Berate Obasanjo

However, following the girls’ release, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has become object of vitriolic criticisms over his previous comment that the girls might never be found. Obasanjo had, earlier this year, stated that “the search for the abducted Chibok girls may not be fruitful. Nobody can bring back the girls because they are nowhere to be found.”

Yinka Odumakin, a democratic activist, maintained that the former president really gaffed on the statement he made over the abducted girls at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State on Friday, February 5, 2016, during a programme organised by the OAU Staff Club tagged Seventh Roundtable with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Odumakin said: “Does anybody take Obasanjo serious again? It is clear that he goofed that time. He is not somebody to be trusted on his comment over the girls’ condition.”

He asked: “What about the rest? Were they released in exchange for the Boko Haram element handed over to the Borno State government or what? I think it will be criminal to release the girls in exchange for the Boko Haram members who have been terrorising the nation all over the place.

“It will be a shame to release these criminals in exchange for those innocent girls who have committed no crime,” adding, “Anyway, there are a lot of issues to address on this matter. But let’s get the girls back first. We pray that they will all come back to meet their parents.

“Let parents whose daughters have not been released be hopeful. Pray that the girls would be released peacefully.”

Barrister Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), described Obasanjo’s comment that the girls might never be found as an error. Falana said: “When the former President made that statement, I reacted by saying that all hope was not lost. I said that from all indications those girls are still alive. And that the government should intensify efforts to look for them.

“We must commend the BBOG that have for the past three years staged daily protests to remind the government, even when the government believed that that organisation had become an embarrassment.”

He added: “This is the greatest sacrifice that Nigerians have made in terms of reminding the government on a daily basis that these girls have to be brought back. The Bring Back Our Girls and other people were interested in the freedom of these girls and never lost interest at any time.

“We are a people that quickly forget events and human beings because we have lost our sense of shock. That is why when you hear the word ‘trillions of Naira stolen’, Nigerians are not shocked.”


Release Of Chibok Girls Diversionary – Fayose

While Nigerians from different political and social divides have been commending the release of the Chibok girls, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and President Muhammadu Buhari’s arch-critc has described the development as a diversionary tactics of the administration in the face of strangulating economic situation and hunger in the land.

While lampooning the Buhari administration for failing to address the massive hunger that has been killing people in the country, Fayose said the past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, which the APC administration had labelled as inept, performed better than the current administration.

Fayose accused the Buhari administration of using the report of Chibok girls’ release to cover up the recent arrest of judges, even as he described the government’s celebration of the release of 21 Chibok girls as a tactic employed to divert attention from the hunger ravaging the people.

Fayose, who spoke at Iyin-Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun local government area of Ekiti State same Thursday, while inaugurating a block of four classrooms built for the Erelu Angela Adebayo Children’s Home, called on President Buhari to address the massive hunger in the land.

He said: “What they came out today to tell Nigerians that 21 abducted Chibok girls have been released by the Boko Haram group is diversionary. Nigerians have never had it so bad. People are very hungry.

“What they did today is just to divert attention from what they did last week by clamping judges and justices into detention. While no one is saying corruption should be condoned, but the due process must be followed.”

Fayose stressed: “The exchange rate of the naira to the dollar is unacceptable. The situation has led to hyper-inflation where what people used to buy for N30,000 cannot be bought with N100,000. Look at the elections that have been conducted since they came to office, all the gains recorded by the previous government as far as democracy is concerned are being eroded.

“Food security is number one, they should stop fooling us; our economy must be urgently addressed because Nigerians voted for the government in power so that they can enjoy better lives.

“There is hunger everywhere, many husbands had turned to wives in their families. Nigeria is hard to live in and we pray that God will change this change for us. It is not good for a government to be catching thieves and kidnappers everyday while its citizens are hungry. Everybody is now a thief in Nigeria, we need prayer in Nigeria and we need divine intervention.”

Fayose said Nigerians had been suffering under the APC government, alleging that the current administration had taken away the rights of Nigerians.

He said what Nigerians need is food, adding that propaganda does not amount to food on the table for the citizens.

Shettima, Borno Governor, Hails

However, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State hailed the release of 21 Chibok school girls by the Boko Haram insurgents.

He said the release of the girls had shown President Muhammadu Buhari’s sincerity in ending the Boko Haram insurgency.

In a statement signed by Mallam Isa Gusau, the governor’s Special Adviser on Communication in Maiduguri, Shettima said that the release of the girls had eliminated the doubts in President Buhari.