82 freed schoolgirls to meet Nigerian president

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 8, 2017

The exact nature of his illness remained unclear.

Government officials were not allowed to talk with journalists yet, but the personal assistant to Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, tweeted that it was "Huge numbers".

Nigeria's government in October announced that 21 girls had been freed after negotiations with Boko Haram, saying another group of 83 would be released "very soon".

The statement says "there is no cause for worry" and says the length of Buhari's stay in London will be determined by his doctors. A thin-looking Buhari met the girls in the evening.

Some 113 young women are still missing, however, she said.

"We appreciate God first and appreciate the government especially the presidency which championed the negotiations", Ayuba Alamson, a community leader said.

Boko Haram extremists kidnap 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in northern Nigeria, the region where the insurgency emerged several years ago. The schoolgirls were released by the Islamic extremists in exchange for five Boko Haram commanders. From there they will be flown to Abuja.

The girls released in October are reported to be in care in Abuja for medical attention, trauma counselling and rehabilitation.

Boko Haram, which has pledged loyalty to Islamic State, has kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children in its campaign to carve out a medieval Islamist caliphate.

Reports said the 82 girls were released to worldwide negotiators who have been working in collaboration with the Federal government for their safe return since they were kidnapped in April 2014.

Girls who escaped said some of their classmates had died from illness. "They were part of us before their abduction and it is equally right that we treat them well", he said.

"We pray that the next information we will get is that the remaining girls have been released". The group had seized thousands of captives in less than a decade.

According to him, the president will be receiving the rescued girls in Abuja on Sunday. The president was expected to meet with the schoolgirls at 4 p.m. local time (1500GMT).

They were freed by their captors at the weekend in exchange for some Boko Haram insurgents held by authorities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is also set to meet with the girls and their families to offer support.

They were among 220 girls abducted from their school dormitories in Chibok by the terror group.

Around 270 girls had been kidnapped that year. ICRC Africa "thinks" the girls have landed in Abuja.

Shekau has previously said the girls would be released if militant fighters held in government custody were freed.

A military source said the girls were now in Banki near the Cameroon border for medical checks before being airlifted to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

"The government should also respect their privacy and ensure that the released girls are reunited with their families and not kept in lengthy detention and security screening which can only add to their suffering and plight".

At the three-year anniversary of the kidnapping in April, the government said negotiations had "gone quite far" but faced challenges.

Dr Mali Gubio, the Secretary of the forum said in Maiduguri that credit must go to President Muhammad Buhari.

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