Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met the 21 Chibok girls who were released last week by militant Boko Haram insurgents after over two years of captivity.
The girls were hosted at the Aso Villa – seat of presidency – where they were received by Buhari, his vice president Yemi Osinbajo and other top government officials. Their freedom was secured as a result of negotiations between the Nigerian government and the militants.
The government confirmed that the Swiss government brokered the negotiations whiles the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated the collection of the girls.
Buhari in a statement to the girls promised to continue efforts to rescue their other colleagues still being held by Boko Haram. He also promised that the government will support them in every way possible going forward.
He consoled them over what they had been through and added that this was their time to set things right for them. ‘‘They have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best.
‘‘They will be given adequate and comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support. The federal government will rehabilitate them, and ensure that their reintegration back to the society is done as quickly as possible,’‘ he said.
Aside from rescuing them he stated that government will resume responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life.
‘‘Obviously, it is not late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies. We will be with them every step of the way.
While joining their parents to rejoice and praise the Almighty, we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home,” he added.
A total of 197 are still missing. The abductions led to one of the biggest social media campaigns under the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter.
The girls were seized from a boarding school in Nigeria’s north-eastern town of Chibok.
Time line of the Chibok Girls abduction and rescues
- The girls were abducted on 14 April in 2014
A total of 276 girls were abducted at night by the militants at their school
- Out of the number 57 managed to escape after jumping out of the truck that was transporting them
- One girl, Amina Ali Nkeki, was found in May year. She was found along with her baby and ‘militant’ partner
- In August 2016, Boko Haram released a video in which they claimed that military airstrikes had killed some of the girls
- They expressed the desire to swap the girls for their ‘brothers’ who were being held by the Nigerian government.
- Today, the government has confirmed the rescue of 21 other girls.
- With 57 who escaped plus 22 rescued, the number still missing comes up to 197.