21 girls and a baby: Joy as Boko Haram releases Chibok schoolgirls

The Federal Government on Thursday released the names of the 21 Chbok schoolgirls released by Boko Haram militants in a deal brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.

Contrary to some media reports that most of them had babies, only one of the girls was confirmed to have a child.

Those released, according to the government, are Mary Usman Bulama, Jummai John, Blessing Abana, Luggwa Sanda, Comfort Habila, Maryam Basheer, Comfort Amos, Glory Mainta and Saratu Emmanuel

Others are Deborah Ja’afaru (baby: Bukar Amos), Rahab Ibrahim, Helen Musa, Maryamu Lawan, Rebecca Ibrahim, Asabe Goni, Deborah Andrawus, Agnes Gapani, Saratu Markus, Glory Dama, Pindah Nuhu and Rebecca Mallam.

Deborah Ja’afaru has a baby named Bukar Amos.

Addressing the girls at the headquarters of the Department of State Service (DSS) in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said “I am sure you know that the whole country has been waiting for you to come back, all these many months, the whole country has been waiting that one day we will see you again and we are very happy to see you back!”

He promised them that “we are going to bring your parents; your parents will be coming here to join you.

Osinbajo said the girls couldn’t be taken out of the DSS immediately because the government needed to be sure that they were in very good health.

“I am sure are going to be very well taken care of. We have provided very good accommodation for you where you will stay where you will sleep and your parents will come and meet you there also,” he continued.

“We are also going to see to it that everything that you require going forward, perhaps your education, those who need to go back to school, those who need to find employment, we are going to make that we make all the provisions for you.

“The Federal Government is very committed. The president in particular, has asked me to tell you, how excited he is. When you were away, he kept saying that if it were his daughter he wouldn’t even know what to do.

“So we are all very excited that you are here. We are all happy that God has preserved your lives and brought you back.

“We know that very soon all will be well and I am sure that when you meet with your parents they will be very excited to meet you.

“We have already contacted them, they know where you are, and very soon they will be joining you here. So we are all looking forward to how you are going to settle in very nicely. The doctors have all the kinds of treatment that you will need, so you are all welcome back and we are all very excited to see.”

Speaking earlier at a press conference, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, revealed that “21 of the girls were released, safely, to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release.”

He said the government had assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts and others ahead of the girls’ arrival in Abuja to properly examine them.

The government was contacting their parents, he added.

Contrary to widespread belief, Mohammed said the government did not swap prisoners for the girls.

“It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides,” he claimed.

Extremist militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped nearly 300 female students from a secondary school in Chibok on April 14, 2014, provoking international outrage promoted by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.