Reports reaching PREMIUM TIMES from Dapchi village of Yobe State indicate that the girls abducted from a school in the town have been released.
Information from sources in Dapchi indicated that the girls were brought back and dumped in the village by unknown persons believed to be Boko Haram militants.
The chairman of the Dapchi Schoolgirls Parents, Bashir Manzo, confirmed the girls were brought to Dapchi.
“My relatives and colleagues in Dapchi just informed me that the girls were brought this morning,” he said.
“I am heading to Dapchi now from Damaturu. When I get there we will do a head count to see if all of them have been released,” he said.
Also, Goni Bukar, a federal lawmaker representing Bursari/Geidam/Yunusari Federal Constituency under which Dapchi falls, told PREMIUM TIMES the girls have been released.
“I want to congratulate all of us that our girls have finally been released,” Mr. Bukar said. “They are now being counted to be sure of how many of them were freed.”
The lawmaker said he would announce the development at plenary today once he has been informed of the total number of girls released.
The military could not immediately confirm the development to PREMIUM TIMES.
The state’s police commissioner said he heard about such a development but could not confirm its authenticity.
He said he came to Abuja and just got to Jos on his way back to Damaturu.
But a top police source in the state confirmed that the girls were dropped outskirts of the town.
It is not yet clear if all the 110 kidnapped girls were freed.
More to come…
UPDATE: A top police source in the state confirmed that the girls were dropped outskirts of the town.
UPDATE: Presidency confirms the release of the girls.
The presidency tweeted Wednesday: “Details about the released Dapchi girls will be made available in due course. The girls are now in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), in Dapchi”.
It also said the State Security Service, also called DSS, “will be briefing the President and the nation in the course of the day”.
UPDATE: Nigerian government has confirmed 76 girls have been so far released. That means 34 are still not accounted for.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, says the girls were released at about 3.00 a.m Wednesday through “back-channel efforts” and with the help of some friends of the country.
”For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option,” he said.
”Within the period when the girls were being brought back, operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost,” Mr. Mohammed said.
He said the number of the freed girls would be updated after the remaining ones have been documented, “especially because the girls were not handed over to anyone but dropped off in Dapchi.”
UPDATE: A military source confirmed that the girls have been released, but said more details need to be established before official statement could be made.
“I’ve been told not to say anything yet, we’re working in the direction of a coordinated statement” the source said.
UPDATE: The Ministers of Information and Defence have just briefed the press ahead of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
They said no ransom was paid for the release of the girls.
UPDATE: The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) says it is “extremely delighted” with the news of the return of the schoolgirls, and describes it as “another solid demonstration of the political will of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to secure the lives of all Nigerians.”
“With this prompt release of the Dapchi girls, the APC government has demonstrated how government should respond to such situations. If the immediate-past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration had responded with the similar alacrity, the Chibok schoolgirls would have been released or rescued. Instead, the PDP wasted several weeks wallowing in denial and conspiracy theories such that it was now left for the APC government to rescue many of the girls and rehabilitate them,” it said.
“We assure Nigerians that the current administration remains committed to securing the release of the remaining Chibok schoolgirl still held in captivity by Boko Haram and ultimately rehabilitate and reunite them with their families and loved ones.
“The Party is confident that reforms that the government has embarked on would improve the capacity and efficiency of our security agencies to prevent the kidnap of children by terrorists and diminish their ability to carry out attacks on soft targets.”
UPDATE: It appears the government is a bit confused on the number of released girls. While a press statement released by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said 76 girls were released, a video of an interview granted State House correspondents showed him saying “91 girls and one boy released”. The video was posted on the Presidency’s Twitter handle.
UPDATE: Buhari sends delegation to Dapchi
President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a delegation comprising cabinet members to Dapchi, Yobe State, to meet with the released school girls.
Those in the delegation are the Ministers of Information, Lai Mohammed, Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijah Bukar Ibrahim.
The delegation is currently at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja preparing to take off.
A source informed PREMIUM TIMES that the team is however travelling to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
He also said “it is quite likely that the girls will also be brought to Maiduguri and the federal delegation may meet them there”.
In Dapchi, soldiers are preventing reporters from getting access to the girls.
Arrangements are however being made to move the girls to the Government House in Damaturu, the Yobe capital
The Nigerian government has revised the number of Dapchi girls released from the captivity by Boko Haram to 101.
The government had earlier on Wednesday through the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, issued a statement saying 76 of the girls were released.
It said the number would be updated as it received more information from officials on the field.
The freed Dapchi schoolgirls have left Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, to Maiduguri, Borno State, amidst heavy security.
The girls arrived Damaturu at about 3 p.m. but did not stop over at the Government House as earlier expected.
The federal government had earlier said 101 of the 110 kidnapped girls were released.
The girls were said to have been attended to at the Dapchi General hospital before they were conveyed in some mini buses and coaster luxury buses escorted by heavy military personnel. The soldiers were led by the General Officer Commanding 3-Division, Ben Ahanotu, a brigadier general.
The convoy of the girls only stopped at the NNPC Mega station for fueling before they took off for Damaturu.
Journalists were prevented from taking photos of the girls in the vehicles as they were being served light refreshment before embarking on the 135km trip to Maiduguri.
One of the soldiers told PREMIUM TIMES that the girls are being taken to the Theater command headquarters in Maiduguri where they would be received by some ministers sent by President Muhammadu Buhari.
UPDATE: The Nigerian government has now confirmed that 105 girls have been released from among 110 kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe State.
The girls were released early on Wednesday weeks after they were kidnapped from their secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who stated these, is currently at the Air Force Base in Maiduguri waiting to receive the released girls.
He also said a boy was among those released by the terror group.
He explained that the earlier conflicting figure released by him was because the “the girls went to their homes after they were released in Dapchi.”
He said the figure is being updated as the girls showed up in the presence of public officials.
“What we have now is 105 girls and a boy; that makes it 106 persons released today”, he said.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that the girls were being conveyed in buses by road from Damaturu to Maiduguri amidst heavy security.
There are reports the five remaining girls, yet to be released, may have died; but that is yet to be confirmed by the government.
The government is yet to state the details of the negotiation with the Boko Haram that led to the release of the girls.
UPDATE: The released Dapchi schoolgirls have arrived Maiduguri Air Force base amidst heavy security
The girls arrived at about 5 p.m.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, led the government delegation that received them.
The girls were immediately taken to a location where they were served food.
UPDATE: One of the Dapchi schoolgirls who would have been the 106th girl to be released was held in captivity because she refused to denounce her Christian faith when she was asked to do so, sources have said.
The girl, named Liya Sharubu, was said to have been held back when she refused to put on the hijab like her other colleagues did during their days in captivity.
One of the freed girls, Khadija Grema, said the girl was warned that she would be held back if she did not accept Islam and profess it publicly.
The girl’s grieving mother fainted and remained in coma after she was informed that her daughter was not released because she refused to denounce her religion.
The secretary of the abducted Dapchi girl’s parents, Bukar Kachalla, confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES in Dapchi.
“It was sad, when we heard that Liya was not released”, said Mr. Kachalla.
“We were told by the Boko Haram that she was not released because she refused to put on hijab,” he said.
The 105 freed girls were transported to Maiduguri from Damaturu by road. They are expected to be flown to Abuja from Maiduguri.