Senior sources in Nigeria’s military have told SaharaReporters that the 82 Chibok girls released today by dreaded Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, regained their freedom after intense negotiation with a faction of the militant group.
The sources disclosed that the deal involved the Federal Government’s release of two senior Boko Haram commanders who had been in detention by the Nigerian security services. According to one of the sources, a combined team of military and Red Cross negotiators flew the two detained Islamist commanders to Banki town in Borno State where they were handed over to a team of Boko Haram representatives. The Boko Haram team had, in turn, brought the 82 Chibok girls to the outskirts of Banki where a heavy contingent of Nigerian troops took custody of them.
The sources said the negotiators included operatives from military intelligence as well as officials of the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria’s secret police.
A resident of Banki told our correspondent that he and other members of the town were a bit apprehensive when they saw two helicopters land in the town. “We were not sure why the helicopters were landing until we saw two men handcuffed and driven away in a military convoy and also the Chibok girls driven into town under heavy military escort,” said Sani Usman.
Our military sources also disclosed that the Nigerian government paid Boko Haram a significant amount in foreign currencies in addition to releasing two of the insurgent group’s detainees.
SaharaReporters first broke the news of the latest release of 82 Chibok schoolgirls out of 195 of the girls who remained in captivity. Boko Haram fighters abducted more than 300 schoolgirls on April 14, 2014, but some of the girls managed to flee from their abductors. In October 2016, the Nigerian struck an agreement with Boko Haram under which 21 of the schoolgirls were released. Two others were found wandering out of the sight of their abductors last year.
The Nigerian government has not released the names of the 82 girls released today. A Nigerian government source, who asked for anonymity, disclosed that the girls would be flown first to Maiduguri before heading to Abuja tomorrow.