Nigeria: Release of 21 Chibok school girls dominates front pages in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The release of 21 of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls, kidnapped by the deadly Islamist Boko Haram insurgents in April 2014, was the major story in Nigeria this week.

The Nigerian Presidency, confirming the release on Thursday, said they were in the custody of the nation's secret service, the Department of State Security Services (DSS).

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in a statement "It is confirmed that 21 of the missing Chibok Girls have been released and are in the custody of the DSS. The Director-General of the DSS, Malam Lawal Daura, has just briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.

"The release of the girls, in a limited number, is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and Boko Haram, brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government. The negotiations will continue."

A source had earlier disclosed that the girls were picked up by military helicopter from Banki area of Borno State where Boko Haram militants dropped them off earlier on Monday.

Picking up the story, the pro-government NATION newspaper, wrote under the headline, "How we negotiated Chibok girls’ freedom, by Shehu Sani".

It said that Vocal civil liberty activist, Senator Shehu Sani, a key player in the negotiation that led to Thursday’s release of the 21 Chibok schoolgirls, drafted the master plan for the negotiation and facilitated the involvement of Switzerland in the talks as well as the International Red Cross in transporting the girls to safety.

He told The NATION that with the confidence built on both sides, it might not be long before the remaining girls joined their families.

His words: “I  believe  that this government has achieved what has never been achieved and there I have the confidence that the other girls will also be released through the same process that was taken for these ones to be released.

“The confidence has been built on both sides and the parties have agreed to do more. I can tell you that there was no prisoner swap. There was none,” the NATION quoted Sani as saying.

“This master plan started from 2014 but it was followed through with the effort of the person who negotiated, who happened to be Mustapha Zanna, a lawyer in Maiduguri. I was the one who brought Mustapha Zanna in with Switzerland and the RCRC.

On how the girls should be handled now that they are out of captivity, the Senator said: “These girls need a lot of psychological rehabilitation for the trauma which they have passed through for all this period of time. If you live with insurgents, you need to be rehabilitated to lead a normal life again. They have been filled with different ideas, so we need to detoxify their minds for the very fact that they felt abandoned; some of them have been brainwashed and indoctrinated. This is why we need to de-worm them. It is very necessary.

“We should all help the parents of these girls to be able to cater for their daughters because at the end of the day, no matter what we do to these girls, they will still need to go back to their homes."

In its second story, under the headline "Our joy, our fears, by parents of returnee Chibok girls", the NATION said the air has been filled with excitement since the news of the release of 21 of the secondary school girls, kidnapped by the dreaded Boko Haram sect at Chibok, north eastern Borno State, since April 2014.

Their release came after they had spent about 900 days in the den of the dreaded sect along with their more than 200 other colleagues.

While many see Thursday’s release of the 21 girls as a sign that the remaining 197 who are yet unaccounted for will return, others see it as a development that portends a bitter-sweet experience for the affected parents because of the heart-rending experiences the returnees will narrate to them and the revelation of the identities of those that are dead as well as the circumstances that culminated in their demise.

According to the paper, "Fatima Abba-Kaka, a member of Bring Back Our Girls (#BBOG), the advocacy group at the forefront of the agitation for the release of the girls, said “For some of the parents, the arrival of these girls will mean the truth about those that Boko Haram claims have been killed. These ones will probably tell the real story of the girls that lost their lives.”

Mr. Hosea Tsambido, the Chairman, Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA), Abuja, an umbrella body for members of the Chibok community, was allowed audience with the girls when they arrived Abuja. He noted that while the girls were all emaciated, they were well composed and acted in very normal and respectful manner.

“A lot of the parents kept calling me for information as soon as the news broke, to know if their daughters were among the 21. When I eventually got the names and called their parents, I did not actually sense so much excitement from them, because they have been traumatised for so long and it took a while for the news to sink in that their daughters are finally back. The other parents who are not amongst the 21 feel so bad that their daughters are still in captivity.”

The Chairman of the Chibok parents and father of one of the girls still in captivity, Yakubu Nkeki, said they had been contacted by the Minister of Women Affairs and had been asked to come to Abuja with the parents of the 21.

He said: “My daughter is not among the 21, but as their leader, I am happy for the lucky parents. I am very happy for them that their daughters are back.

“Most of the parents in Chibok have been rejoicing since the news broke. They have all been trooping to my house in excitement. The release of these 21 has renewed our hope for the release of our other daughters, which is good. We don’t want to think about those whose daughters might have died. The important thing for us is that we have hope and our hope has been renewed by the release of the 21.”

Another parent, Rev. Enoch Mark, whose two daughters are amongst the abducted girls, expressed excitement about the release of the 21. Although none of his daughters was among the 21, Rev. Mark says he sees the move as a sign that more of them will be released.

And under the headline, "Chibok girls: We’re collating intelligence on others, says Buhari", the NATION said President Muhammadu Buhari, still basking in the euphoria of the release of 21 of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram, has said that government was working hard to get the others back home.

“About 100 more (girls) are still in the hands of the terrorists,” Buhari told reporters in Berlin after a meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. “We hope we’ll get some … intelligence to go about securing the balance.”

Shortly before departing for Berlin on Thursday, Buhari had assured Nigerians that government owed it a duty to “continue to secure them wherever they are.”

Relations of one of the 21 freed girls freed on Thursday after two-and-a-half years in captivity said they could not wait to be reunited.

Other headlines in the NATION were: "Strong leadership secured release of Chibok girls, says Okorocha "; "Abdulsalam hails FG over safe return of 21 Chibok girls" and "Girls’ release a sign of things to come, says Atiku".

THISDAY newspaper headlined its story on the Chibok girls as "Buhari: Negotiations to Free Remaining Chibok Girls Ongoing."

It said that President Buhari on Friday expressed optimism about the release of more of the girls abducted at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, after 21 of them were freed by Boko Haram, following more than two years of captivity.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari spoke at a joint press conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The President, according to Shehu, said negotiations would continue until all the girls secure their freedom.

Buhari said: “On the Chibok girls, we have been able to secure the release of 21 of them, so over 100 more are still in the hands of the terrorists somewhere in the Lake Chad Basin area which include Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.

“In getting this 21 out, we hope we will get enough intelligence to go about securing the rest of them. We are very grateful to the UN for their participation in trying to secure the release of these girls.”

The statement said the President thanked the German government for its humanitarian assistance and support for Nigeria in dealing with the effects of terrorism.
-0- PANA VAO 15Oct2016

15 october 2016 07:34:47

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