Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that the release of 21 Chibok girls by their Boko Haram abductors, was not a swap deal, but a product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides.
The Minister, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the moment the government had a credible lead, President Muhammadu Buhari gave the green-light to the Department of State Service (DSS) to pursue it.
“Please note that this is not a swap. It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides.
“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.
“We see this as a credible first step in the eventual release of all the Chibok Girls in captivity. It is also a major step in confidence-building between us as a government and the Boko Haram leadership on the issue of the Chibok girls.
“We want to thank all Nigerians for their support and for never losing confidence in the ability of Mr. President to secure the safe release of our Chibok girls,” he said.
Speaking further, the minister said that the government will not do anything that will jeopardize future releases, bearing in mind that there were still other abducted girls in captivity.
According to him, releasing information on the group of the Boko Haram the government negotiated with before the release of the girls will not help situation of the girls and further negotiations.
The Minister said the released girls were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release, as the Federal Government insisted that their freedom was not a product of swap deal.
He stated that the DSS pursued the lead in collaboration with a friendly European country and a renowned international humanitarian organization.
He recalled that the government had been working on the safe release of the girls and following all the leads available.
“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 closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the government expected the released girls to land in Abuja on Thursday, stating that a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts, among others were assembled to properly examine the girls, especially because they have been in captivity for
He said, “They will also be adequately debriefed. We have the list of the 21 girls but we are now contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification exercise. As soon as that is concluded, we will release the names to the public.