The Federal Government said on Thursday that the 21 Chibok girls released by the Boko Haram sect was not by swap “but a product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides’’.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the clarification at a world press conference in Abuja.
The minister stressed that the release was effected based on confidence building between the government and the leadership of Boko Haram.
He said government viewed the release as a credible step in the eventual release of all the Chibok girls in captivity.
The minister confirmed that 21 of the abducted girls were released at about 5.30 a.m. on Thursday and flown to Kaduna from the location of their release.
“We have been working on the safe release of the girls and following all the leads available.
“In this instance, the moment we had a credible lead, Mr President gave the green-light to the DSS (Department of State Service) to pursue it.
‘’We can confirm that the DSS pursued the lead in collaboration with a friendly European country and a renowned international humanitarian organisation.
The DSS was supported by the military.
“ As soon as the necessary confidence was built on both sides, the parties agreed on the date and the location of the release of the 21 girls.
“This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr. President to secure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families.
“It is also a result of the round-the-clock efforts by the Administration to put a closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls,’’ he said.
The minister said that the girls were expected to arrive in Abuja later in the day.
He said that ahead of the arrival of the girls, a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and trauma experts had been assembled to properly examine them.
He said government had the list of the 21 girls and was already contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification.
The minister said the government would release the names of the girls to the public as soon the verification was completed.
He said government appreciated the support of all Nigerians, particularly for never losing confidence in the ability of the president to secure the safe release of the girls. (NAN)