Chibok schoolgirls likely to be freed soon, Nigeria says

Chibok Girls

Travelling from eastern Yola to Abuja, Goni Mutah, the father of Asabe Goni, who was 21 when she was kidnapped, was overjoyed to hear of his daughter's release, and said he had immediately phoned his relatives to share the news.

"About an hour ago I met with the 21 who have been brought back".

For a year after they were taken, the abducted girls were kept together, she said.

He arrived about 6.30pm with his wife and started by offering prayers for the released girls.

The girls were released on Thursday morning after negotiations - brokered by the Swiss government - with Boko Haram, with government saying Boko Haram prisoners were not swapped for the girls.

The source also stated that the government was keen on getting the remaining 83 girls, reportedly held by a top leader of the sect in an undisclosed location in the North East.

Nigerian Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed told reporters Thursday that the girls' freedom "was not a swap".

"When you are fighting an insurgency, it's a combination of carrot and stick", Mohammed said. "But it could mean a new phase in the conduct of the war against terror".

The European Union (EU) has expressed joy at the release of 21 abducted girls by insurgent group, Boko Haram.

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"The restitution of the Abacha funds ($321 million) has no connection to the liberation of the young girls", Crevoisier said.

About 2,000 girls and boys have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organisation. A product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides.

Switzerland "facilitated contacts between Nigerian representatives and intermediaries of Boko Haram" after a request from Abuja, a Swiss government spokeswoman said.

Two years on, while some 57 girls managed to escape then, 219 of them still missing until these 21 were freed by their abductors.

Their release was confirmed as "the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Islamist militants" by Garba Shehu, spokesman for Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.

The alleged swap was "bittersweet", said Ryan Cummings, director at intelligence firm Signal Risk.

But for the Chairman of Conference of Political Parties (CNPP) and chairman of Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) in Anambra state, Lolo Oby Okafor, the release of the Chibok girls is political.

He stated that the president, however, cautioned "Nigerians to be mindful of the fact that more than 30,000 fellow citizens were killed via terrorism".

"We thank the federal government and, like Oliver Twist, we ask for more", said Hauwa Biu, an activist in Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram.