Nigeria identifies 82 freed Chibok girls; parents await word

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 9, 2017

"Huge numbers", the personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, tweeted late on Saturday (Sunday NZT).

" I urge the Nigerian authorities to further take steps to achieve the full release of all unaccounted Chibok girls still under Boko Haram captivity".

Parents and relatives anxiously gathered at newsstands today (May 7) as the girls' names and photos were released, the AP reported, to determine whether their daughters were among the freed.

"While we welcome the release of the girls, we do not think that exchanging innocent girls for hardened criminals like the terrorists is the right approach".

It was unclear if numerous parents in the remote northeastern town of Chibok had seen the list of names or if any would travel the almost 900 kilometers (560 miles) to the capital of Abuja to see their daughters who were abducted by the Boko Haram militant group.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Thousands of people have been killed and about 1.6 million driven from their homes in the eight-year insurgency by Boko Haram.

The swap marked the largest number of Chibok schoolgirls released since Boko Haram kidnapped a total of 276 of them from a government boarding school in April, 2014.

Last year, 21 Chibok girls were freed and have been in government care.

Questions remain about the legal status of the released girls.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it "facilitated the safe return" of the girls as a "neutral intermediary", some six months after 21 other Chibok girls were freed with the held of the ICRC and the Swiss government.

Oranika, however, called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts to achieve the release of all the girls still held by Boko Haram group.

While the girls' kidnapping gained global attention, the ICC counts them among more than 2,000 boys and girls Boko Haram has abducted for use as suicide bombers, fighters, wives or cooks. While some parents have already traveled to Abuja, other are awaiting word at their homes, the AP said.

Twenty one of the girls were released in October 2016, while Buhari directed security agencies to ensure all the affected girls were released and re-united with their families.

"The attention of the party has been drawn to a statement made by the rebel group criticizing aspects of the release of Chibok girls".

In a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the statement as "indecent, inhuman and ill-timed". A lot of factors come into play when a nation has to decide whether or not to engage in prisoner/hostage swap.

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