Islamic militant group Boko Haram released 82 schoolgirls part of more than 276 Chibok high schoolgirls they abducted in mid-April 2014.
A statement from President Muhammadu Buhari’s office said, the girls were released in an exchange for the detained five Boko Haram militants held by the authorities after tough negotiations with the government and international envoys.
The statement also said the president expressed his appreciation and gratitude to all those who were involved for their role to secure the release of the girls. The envoys included the security agencies, military, government of Switzerland, International Committee of the Red Cross as well as local and international non-governmental organizations.
“This evening I received 82 of our daughters, who have just regained their freedom after three years in Boko Haram captivity,” President Buhari wrote on Twitter. “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 Boko Haram captives.”
The schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school as they were preparing for their exams in the town of Chibok, which is about 500 miles from Abuja. The case remains one of the most shocking humanitarian crises in the modern terrorism history.
The abduction sparked global outrage, including condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, the then U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and other celebrities launched a media campaign to demand the release of the girls with a social media movement campaign which was popular with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
The first group of 22 girls was released in October 2016 and now about 100 who are now around 20 years old still remain in Boko Haram’s hands.
The Chibok schoolgirls who are mostly Christians were abducted and forced to convert to Islam. Some of the girls were forced to marry their captors and many gave birth to children in the Sambisa Forest. Boko Haram is reported . to have wanted to sell the schoolgirls to other militants if the government was not going to release the five prisoners in exchange for the girls’ freedom.
YouTube: Michelle Obama speaks out over the abducted Chibok Schoolgirls through a social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria
The Boko Haram insurgency which is now in its eighth year has caused havoc in Nigeria. The terror group has been responsible for bombings, and assassinations in an attempt to overthrow the government to create an Islamic state.
According to the Nigerian government, the militants have killed more than 20,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and abducted thousands of children and adults with an aim of creating an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.