The federal government has confirmed the release of 103 out of 110 secondary schoolgirls whisked away by Boko Haram insurgents from their hostels at the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018
The minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, confirmed the release of the girls in a statement issued today in Abuja and signed by his media aide, Mr. Segun Adeyemi,
However, it was gathered that five of the girls died from exhaustion on the day of abduction and were given a mass burial.
Aisha Alhaji Deri, a 16-year-old student who was among those kidnapped in Dapchi, told reporters they were not mistreated during their time in captivity.
But she added: “When we were being taken away, five of us died on the way. They brought us back this morning, dropped us outside the motor park and said we should all go home and not go to the military because they will claim to have rescued us.”
It was also gathered that one of the girls, Liah Sharibu was still in captivity because she refused to renounce her faith.
“One of the girls was asked by the insurgents to renounce her Christian faith and embrace Islam. But she told them that she was a Christian and will not like to be converted. She was held on account of that,” Channels Television quoted one of the freed girls as saying.
Mohammed explained that the girls’ release followed the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to all security agencies to do everything possible to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.
On the circumstance surrounding the girls’ return, he said the government chose a non-violent approach with an understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out.
“Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” the minister said.
Mohammed said the release was “unconditional” and the result of “back-channel efforts” with the help of “some friends of the country”, without elaborating.
He the girls were released about 3:00 am (0200 GMT) and that a full head-count was under way.
However, it was gathered Boko Haram could not have released the girls without some trade-offs in the form of exchange of prisoners and some cash given government ransom payments made to the insurgents to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of Nigerians who took to the social media platform reacted variously expressed mixed reactions to the news of the return of the schoolgirls.
Here are some:
When Boko Haram raided Dapchi and went away with 110 #DapchiGirls there was no security on ground. A month after the kidnap, Boko Haram drove back the girls in the same vehicles they were taken away, still no security? — Kemi Ariyo (@d_problemsolver) March 21, 2018
People who use their heads to think will ask how it was possible for boko haram to freely kidnap and return 100plus #DapchiGirls in an heavily militarised region like Yobe without any confrontation from the military. But I understand some people actually think with their legs. — Oluyemi Fasipe ?? (@YemieFASH) March 21, 2018
DapchiGirls got kidnapped, they WAILED#DapchiGirls are returned, they are still WAILING.
Don’t blame them. WAILING is their default settings. — Adebayo Bankole Akintunde (@AdeBanqie) March 21, 2018
It must have taken a lot to return the #DapchiGirls in terms of logistics. It would be great to know what Nigeria had to give/do this time to have these girls returned. We are glad they are back but let’s not miss a chance to learn how to do better. — JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) March 21, 2018
So we are just gonna accept and thank whoever kidnapped #dapchigirls for returning them — Eleniyan (@elhadj_pablo) March 21, 2018
As the govt continues to ululate over the release of #DapchiGirls, we must not sleep and forget #FulaniHerdsmen — Israel Ugochukwu Journalist (@JonalistIsrael) March 21, 2018
We literally watched boko haram drive to town, exchange pleasantries, Drop #DapchiGirls , say their goodbyes and drive off. Where were the police, army and government?????? Country yii ti su mi ooooo — WeiRD!! (@ayodaboss) March 21, 2018
A big ‘thank you’ to @MBuhari and the Security Services involved in the safe return of the #DapchiGirls… Your relatively swift resolution of the abduction, even though there might have been a significant cost is commendable to say the least. — Mr. Aye Dee (@MrAyeDee) March 21, 2018
#DapchiGirls: BHT Kidnapped Girls….Stage 1
Boko Haram Returns Kidnapped Girls… Stage 2
Buhari, I have fulfilled my Promise to rescue Abducted girls…. Stage 3
End of Movie — The Nigerian Wailers (@NGRWailers) March 21, 2018
ADDITIONAL REPORTS FROM AFP, CHANNELS TELEVISION