Nigerian Leader Meets 82 Chibok Schoolgirls

Nigerian Leader Meets 82 Chibok Schoolgirls

Nigerian Leader Meets 82 Chibok Schoolgirls

In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari, centre, meets with Chibok school girls recently freed from Nigeria Extremist captivity in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday.

Buhari described the girls' freedom as a "pleasant anniversary gift" to Nigerians, a reference for the second anniversary of his swearing as president on May 29.

The Nigerian government said the girls were released in exchange for Boko Haram militants held by the authorities.

President Buhari said that the girls were freed in a prison swap, in exchange of detained suspected extremists - in the largest negotiated release so far of the mass abduction.

I am very pleased to have personally met you and let me assure you that the presidency will personally supervise the performance of those entrusted with your welfare and commitments made by the Federal Government on your health, education, security and general well-being. Nigeria's government says another 83 girls would be released "very soon". The kidnapping shocked the world and put tremendous pressure on Nigeria's government to counter Boko Haram and free thousands of its captives. He emphasized that he considered all 82 of the girls to be his daughters "because a lot of them worship in my church".

Boko Haram fighters stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the evening of April 14 2014 and kidnapped 276 teenaged girls.

Some parents did not live long enough to see their daughters released, underscoring the tragedy of the three-year saga.

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Shehu Sani, a Nigerian senator who had been involved in previous negotiations with Boko Haram, said the girls were mostly "in good condition" and that talks to secure their release had lasted for "almost three to four months". Others did not want to come home because they'd been radicalized by their captors, they said. It is the second group release; Nigeria announced in October that 21 girls had been freed after negotiations with the extremists.

But the groundswell eventually waned and the Associated Press reports, numerous girls were forced into marriages with their captors and others were feared to have been forced into suicide bombing missions.

Though Boko Haram has abducted thousands of people during its eight-year insurgency that has spilled across Nigeria's borders, the Chibok mass kidnapping horrified the world and brought the extremist group global attention.

The mass abduction shocked the world, sparking a global #Bringbackourgirls campaign supported by former US first lady Michelle Obama and other celebrities.

Although the Nigerian government previous year claimed to have "crushed" the militant group, its members have continued to carry out attacks.

The ICRC said it had acted as a neutral intermediary to transport the freed girls into Nigerian government custody. Its insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes, with millions facing starvation.

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