5 Is­lamist rebels re­leased in ex­change for 82 school­girls

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - BASHIR ADI­GUN

ABUJA, NIGE­RIA — Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari ex­pressed joy at meet­ing Sun­day with the 82 Chi­bok school­girls newly freed af­ter be­ing held cap­tive for three years by Boko Haram Is­lamic ex­trem­ists.

“We’ve al­ways made it clear that we will do ev­ery­thing in our power to en­sure the free­dom & safe re­turn of our daugh­ters & of all BH (Boko Haram) cap­tives,” Buhari said on his Twit­ter ac­count.

Five Boko Haram com­man­ders were re­leased in ex­change for the free­dom of the girls, a Nige­rian govern­ment of­fi­cial said Sun­day.

The con­fir­ma­tion of the pris­oner swap came a day af­ter the young women were lib­er­ated. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity as he was not au­tho­rized to speak to re­porters on the mat­ter.

Nei­ther the Nige­rian pres­i­dent nor Boko Haram, which has links to the Is­lamic State group, gave de­tails on the ex­change.

Photos tweeted by the pres­i­dent Sun­day show dozens of the freed girls at Buhari’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence.

“The pres­i­dent was de­lighted to re­ceive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to rein­te­grate them into the so­ci­ety will be done,” said pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Femi Adesina. “He promised that the pres­i­dent will per­son­ally su­per­vise their re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. He also said they will con­tinue with their ed­u­ca­tion.

The young women have been handed over to govern­ment of­fi­cials who will su­per­vise their re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, said Adesina. The school­girls will be re­united with their fam­i­lies soon, said the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, which helped ne­go­ti­ate the girls’ re­lease.

Shortly af­ter meet­ing girls Buhari an­nounced that he will be re­turn­ing to Lon­don for med­i­cal treat­ment. Buhari was in Bri­tain ear­lier this year for more than seven weeks for med­i­cal care. In Nige­ria Buhari missed three con­sec­u­tive cabi­net meet­ings, prompt­ing con­cerns for his health.

Other Nige­ri­ans in­clud­ing some par­ents of the kid­napped girls gath­ered in Abuja at the Unity Foun­tain to cel­e­brate the week­end re­lease.

Par­ents of the miss­ing girls still ex­pressed anx­i­ety over the fate of their daugh­ters.

The Rev. Enoch Mark, whose two daugh­ters have been among the miss­ing, was still wait­ing word if they were among those freed.

“Three years is not three days. I have to be anx­ious with the in­ten­tion to see if one of my daugh­ters is among the re­leased ones.”

Nige­ria’s govern­ment has com­mit­ted to res­cu­ing the 113 re­main­ing school­girls.

OLAMIKAN GBEMIGA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Chi­bok school­girls freed from Boko Haram cap­tiv­ity were in Abuja Sun­day. The govern­ment will take care of them and help them resume school­ing.

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