There was jubilation across the country yesterday, as President Muhammadu Buhari received the 82 released Chibok schoolgirls at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
On arrival in Abuja, the girls were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president.
Announcing their arrival at about 11am yesterday, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, tweeted on his twitter handle: “82 Chibok girls now in Abuja. Received on behalf of the President at the airport by Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari. Congrats Nigeria”.
The girls were immediately taken to undergo medical check-up at the Department of State Services (DSS) clinic in Aso Rock.
The girls arrived the presidential villa at about 7:05pm in two white Marcopolo buses accompanied by security officials and Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan.
The buses had window blinds which shielded the girls from the prying eyes of journalists who had camped outside the gate of the President’s residence from 3pm, waiting patiently for their arrival.
Except for the president’s official photographer and the cameraman of the state-owned Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), other journalists were barred from entering the venue where the girls were being hosted.
President Buhari hosted the girls at his official residence in Aso Rock Villa in a ceremony which lasted about 45 minutes.
While receiving them in his residence at Aso Rock, the president expressed delight over their release by the Boko Haram insurgents, saying no human being should go through this kind of ordeal.
Describing it as a pleasant 2nd anniversary gift to the people of Nigeria, he said, “I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom.
“On behalf of all Nigerians, I will like to share my joy with you, your parents, your relatives, friends and Government of Borno State on regaining your freedom,” Buhari said.
He commended the security agencies, the Red Cross, local authorities, local and foreign NGOs and all those who contributed in one way or the other to secure the release of the Chibok girls.
He reassured Nigerians, especially relatives and friends of the remaining girls, that the federal government will spare no effort to see that the remaining girls and all other Nigerians who had been abducted safely regain their freedom.
Buhari added: “Finally, I am very pleased to have personally met you and let me assure you that the Presidency will personally supervise the performance of those entrusted with your welfare and commitments made by the Federal Government on your health, education, security and general well-being.
“No human being should go through this kind of ordeal. The security agencies and state governments should continue to provide special protection to educational institutions vulnerable to this kind of outrage especially in remote areas”.
Buhari restated that his administration was resolutely determined to safeguard the security of all Nigerians at all times.”
Providing more insight into the girls’ release, Senator Shehu Sani stated that the negotiators and particularly the DSS and complimentary support from other agencies made it possible.
According to him, the negotiations were led by a recent winner of an international humanitarian award, aided by the Swiss in the mediation process, monitored by the ICRC and made possible by the DSS. He further stated that it involved at some level, travels to Bern and Sudan.
In a series of tweets on his twitter handle, @shehusani, the lawmaker revealed that five Boko Haram commanders were released for the girls in a swap deal, and that “negotiations will continue for the next set after the ones secured are made public.”
On the state of health of the girls, he stated that “It’s credible that 82 girls have been released; all in good condition with the exception of 1 with fracture on the hand and one with crutches.”
“The Chibok girls release will partially clear the dark cloud of moral guilt that hangs over sky of our country. Chibok girls captivity tested the degree of our conscience,of our resilience,of our humanity and of our claim of responsibility to others. Those who held the torch of their freedom against the odds of time, alighted the path to those who unlock the key to their freedom,” he wrote in the tweets.
Over 200 female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State were kidnapped on April 14, 2014 .
Apart from the two girls who escaped from the den of the terrorists, 21 more girls were freed by Boko Haram last year October after negotiations with government.
This latest batch of 82 girls brings the total number of the girls who have so far regained freedom from their terrorist captors since their abduction three years ago to 105.
List Of The Freed Chibok Girls
Tobita Hellapa (Maryam Lawal)
It’s Proof President Is Walking The Talk – APC
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that the release of 82 Chibok girls is indicative that President Muhammdu Buhari is Walking the talk.
Reacting to the release of the girls, the party through its national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said it received the news of Saturday’s release of 82 Chibok girls with great joy.
APC commended the dedication of President Buhari, security agencies, international organisations for their various roles in securing the release of the girls, while also encouraging the families whose children are still in captivity, assuring them that government will ensure their return.
The statement reads in part: “The Party particularly commends President Muhammadu Buhari for his tenacity and dedication in ensuring the safe return of the Chibok girls who were abducted in 2014. This is further proof that we have a president who is working the talk. Nigerians will recall that last year, government secured the release of 20 girls.
“The APC also wishes to express its profound gratitude to all security organisations and international agencies that have played various roles to secure the release of the Chibok schoolgirls.
“The party congratulates and celebrates the girls who have bravely survived the very harrowing experiences these past three years and their parents and families who have endured the nervy and traumatic wait for their children. We assure of government’s resolve to give comprehensive medical attention to the released schoolgirls and ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration into normal society.
“For parents and families whose children remain in captivity, we urge them to take solace with fact that government is doing everything possible to ensure the safe return of the remaining schoolgirls”.
The party however urged the President to stay steadfast in his commitment to see to the release of all the girls and thousands of others being held captive by the insurgents, and to bring the ugly episode to a closure.
Saraki Hails Buhari, Security Forces
Meanwhile, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government, security operatives, and the international Red Cross on the release of 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki expressed delight at the development, saying that the prayers and well-wishes of Nigerians and the global community had led to the return of more of the girls.
He said, “As a father, I can’t help but feel delighted and excited at the release of the 82 schoolgirls. When they were taken from us, the whole world joined in demanding for their return — now, it is a testament to the tenacity and commitment of the Federal Government, led by Mr. President, that they are back with us, and will soon be reunited with their families.
“Last year, we managed to secure the release of 20 girls. Today, 82. By this feat, those that are still out there should be rest assured that Nigeria will not forget them, and this government will continue to do everything within its power to bring them back home,” Saraki said, “Moving forward, the Security Forces must be commended. However, the work is not yet done, too many families are still anxious today. Too many of our daughters have not returned”.
Dogara commends PMB
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has commended President Buhari for his dedication to the safe return of the abducted Chibok Girls.
Dogara, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, described the development as ‘delightful and heartening.
He commended the efforts of the security agencies and all others who were involved in the negotiation process.
The Speaker said, “Last month, the House of Representatives adopted a motion urging the Executive to expedite negotiation for the release of the schoolgirls who remain in captivity, and the news of the release of 82 Chibok girls is delightful, to say the least.
“President Buhari has further proven that he is a man of his words, as he could have used the initial inaction by the previous administration as an excuse to not take action, but he didn’t. It has been said in many quarters that true leadership is defined not by apportioning blame, but by solving challenges irrespective of their genesis, and the President deserves all commendation for this feat.
“It is extremely gladdening that these 82 girls will finally be reunited with their families; it is my ardent hope that they get the required medical attention, and that the other girls – and all others – who remain in captivity are released soon”.
We Acted As Intermediary__Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross (@ICRC) in Africa has explained its role in the freedom of 82 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants since 14 April, 2014.
The agency said on its Twitter page that it only acted as an intermediary between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. And then also its vehicles were used to transport the freed girls to Nigerian officials at Banki, in Borno state.
Patrick Youssef who tweeted the agency’s position said: “With the agreement of all the parties involved, we @ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary to facilitate their transport back Some of the rescued 82 Chibok school girls at DSS Hospital in Abuja “Many families have lost contact because of the conflict and the #LakeChadCrisis. We’re so relieved in this case that families can be reunited”.
ICRC had played a similar role last year October, when Nigeria got the first batch of 21 Chibok girls released.
Shettima Salutes PMB
Also, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state yesterday saluted the courage, determination and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari, the military, other security outfits and parents of the missing Chibok school girls for the recent breakthrough in rescuing yet another batch of the girls.
Shettima stated this in a state broadcast at the Government House, Maiduguri.
He also thank God for giving strength to their very resilient parents in the Chibok community and for guiding President Buhari, military and members of civilian JTF in the North-east.
Shettima noted that the president’s sincerity in ensuring the freedom of the girls was one of the topmost priorities of the APC administration, stressing that Buhari has since proved his overriding commitment after the first set of 21 girls that were freed in November last year
Shettima said, “I am sure many Nigerians were surprised by this negotiated freedom of over 80 schoolgirls. This cheering news came at a time many critics thought the president wasn’t at work. If there is one thing Nigerians must learn from this joyful development, it is that in whatever circumstance, President Buhari has this country at heart and he works round the clock to address critical national problems such as we have seen in the successful freedom of our daughters and also in the sustained fight against the insurgents.
“That the Buhari administration, alongside international and local humanitarian partners, was able to negotiate the release of these girls at a time the administration stepped up the battle against the insurgents is an extraordinary record of achievement that very few leaders around the world could have achieved”.
EU Hails FG Over Release Of 82 Chibok Girls
Meanwhile, the European Union Delegation to Nigeria yesterday commended the federal government over release of 82 of the chibok school girls.
In an official statement it issued on Sunday, EU said the news is a glimmer of hope that one day, all the abducted Chibok school girlswill regain total freedom from Boko Haram and unite with their family in order to have the chance to rebuild their lives.
The EU reassured the federal government that as it continues to be fully committed to supporting humanitarian, development and reconstruction work in Nigeria, it will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and in its tireless work to free the girls.
EU futher stressed that all things must be done to ensure that those responsible for the ordeal are brought to justice.
BBOG Commends FG, Other Partners For Return Of 82 Chibok Girls
Meanwhile, the #BringBackOurGirls group has commended the federal government, security agencies, the military, the government of Switzerland, the Red Cross, local and international NGOS for the successful return of 82 of the Chibok school girls.
The group, in a statement signed by its leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, noted that it was exceedingly delighted by the good news, saying it was long awaited, following last October when upon the release of 21 of the girls the federal government promised that another 83 were being negotiated to be released very soon.
BBOG said, ”The Nigerian Presidency has confirmed through a statement from the Presidency that 82 of our missing 195 #ChibokGirls have been released via a negotiated deal through the combined effort of security agencies, the military, the government of Switzerland, the Red Cross, local and international NGOs.
“We commend Mr President, the Federal Government and all the other partners for this heartwarming development”.
The group further demanded for more action to ensure the return of the remaining 113 girls who are still missing for over three years now.
It stated: “We are also glad that the statement from the Presidency makes a strong commitment to rescuing the remaining 113 of our #ChibokGirls that are still captives of terrorists. We urge the President and his government to earnestly pursue the release of all our Chibok girls and other abducted citizens of Nigeria.
“We once again offer our absolute support to the initiative of the government necessary to bring collate to this tragedy.
“We are eagerly looking forward to the official release of the names of the 82 girls in order to enable us as usual verify them against the #ChibokGirls list generated by the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls (General Ibrahim Sabo Committee) report of 20 June 2014.
“We once again thank everyone all over the world who has persisted with the parents of our #ChibokGirls and our movement in demanding for their rescue”.
PMB Leaves Nigeria For London
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari last night left Nigeria for London where he is billed for follow-up medical consultation with his doctors.
A statement by his special adviser media, Femi Adesina, noted that the president had planned to leave Sunday afternoon, but decided to tarry a bit, due to the arrival of 82 Chibok girls who arrived Abuja earlier in the day.
According to Adesina, the president assured all Nigerians that there was no cause for worry.
Buhari said he was also very grateful for the prayers and good wishes of the people, even as he hoped they would continue to pray for the peace and unity of the nation.
The presidential spokesman further stated: “The length of the President’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors. Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President”.
“President Buhari has transmitted letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.
In February this year, President Buhari had embarked on a 49 day medical vacation in the United Kingdom.