The 21 Chibok girls released last week from the captivity of the Boko Haram sect have been reunited with their families. The tearful reunion took place during a thanksgiving service held on Sunday in the nation’s capital city of Abuja.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, attended the service, alongside Director Medical Services of the State Security Service, SSS, Anne Okorafor.
Speaking at the church service, Lai Mohammed, announced that the Federal Government is negotiating with Boko Haram for the release of the remaining Chibok Girls.
In April 2014, more than 200 girls were abducted from their school’s dormitory in Chibok, Borno state by the terrorists, while some of them escaped and others reportedly died, the rest had been held by the dreaded group.
Last Thursday, 21 of them were released after negotiation between Nigerian government, the group and some international bodies like the Red Cross and the Swiss government.
Although, there have been claims that the girls were released after Federal Government swapped some Boko Haram prisoners in exchange for the girls, the FG maintained that their release of the girls through the collaborative efforts of the security agencies and a friendly European country and a renowned International Humanitarian Organisation.
Confirming the release of the girls on Thursday, Mr Lai Mohammed said:
“This is not a swap. This was a release which was effected because, over time, we succeeded in confidence building.
“This particular release is significant because it’s just a first step in what we believe will lead to the eventual release of all our girls in custody. It is significant also because we have been able to establish more than ever before a confidence in both the leadership of Boko Haram and Nigerians.
“I am not aware of any monetary transaction.”
The girls have not been handed over to their parents, they are to remain with the government for some time for further medical assistance and counselling.
Their abduction 30 months ago triggered wide-spread protests globally, popularising a “Bring Back Our Girls” slogan.