By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
ABUJA, NIGERIA (ANS, Oct. 21, 2016) — Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, has spoken about the release of 21 girls and a boy born in captivity to one of their number, according to World Watch Monitor, www.worldwatchmonitor.org
“This is only the first step in what we believe will be total liberation and release of all the remaining girls,” Mohammed said.
“Already we are on phase two and we are already in discussions,” he said on Sunday (Oct. 16). “But of course you know these are very delicate negotiations, there are some promises we made also about the confidentiality of the entire exercise and we intend to keep them.”
According to the government’s Senior Special Assistant for Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, a splinter group of Boko Haram is willing to negotiate the release of 83 more girls. CNN reported that the other 114 girls are dead, or, reportedly, don’t want to leave their kidnappers because they are now married or have been radicalized.
World Watch Monitor says this release is only the second time any of the 219 long-term captives (over 50 girls escaped shortly after being taken) have found freedom.
Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, was the first of the 219 to be found alive when she was discovered by vigilantes in the Sambisa Forest. Nkeki revealed that she knew of six of the remaining 218 who had died. If negotiations to release 83 more are successful, that leaves at least 100 girls either still among Boko Haram or unaccounted for.
World Watch Monitor states there are conflicting reports about the terms of the girls’ release, which was brokered by the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The government has denied any prisoner exchange, but, according to Associated Press, two military officers have said four detained Boko Haram commanders were freed; AP reports that a Nigerian who negotiated previous failed attempts also said a large ransom was paid by the Swiss government on behalf of Nigerian authorities.
World Watch Monitor says the released girls finally met with their families on Sunday in Abuja after some parents had travelled for days for the emotional reunion.
One of the girls, Gloria Dame, said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death at least once.
Muta Abana, who has been reunited with his daughter, Blessing, said he thought the girls’ abduction had been politicized, complaining that “people’s children aren’t money, people’s children are not clothes you wear to campaign, people’s children are their pride.”
The girls are currently receiving medical attention and trauma counselling in a hospital.
Photo captions: 1) Joy and tears as a family reunite with one of the released Chibok schoolgirls, Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 2016. (World Watch Monitor) 2) Nigeria’s Vice President: ‘The whole country has been waiting that one day we will see you again.’ (Photo Nigeria VP Office). 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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