LAGOS: Boko Haram Islamists who kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria, just over a month ago have so far returned 101 of the students to the town, the government said on Wednesday.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the girls were released “unconditionally”. “No money changed hands,” he told reporters in the capital, Abuja.
He added: “As of now, the number (of girls confirmed to have been released) has increased to 101.”
One of the missing girls’ parents, Kachalla Bukar, said Boko Haram militants shook hands and took pictures with them before leaving.
Another parent, Alhaji Deri, said the remote town in Yobe state was “crowded with people celebrating” as word spread of the return of the girls.
Fatima Gremah, 13, who was among those released, told reporters: “Boko Haram said we were lucky we were young and also Muslims.
“One of us who is a Christian has been left behind. They said they would keep her until she converted.
“If she converts, they will release her. She is the only one among us left behind.” Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said last week the government had “chosen negotiation” to secure the return of the Dapchi girls rather than use military force. Mohammed had earlier said their release was the result of “back-channel efforts” with the help of “some friends of the country”, without elaborating.