The circumstances behind the release of the 21 out of the 218 abducted Chibok girls is becoming controversial as the Federal Government and local sources have given different accounts.
While the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, maintained that there was no swap of prisoners or financial inducement for the release of the girls, local sources in the North East say four Boko Haram commanders were swapped for the girls.
Mohammed, while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, told journalists that the 21 girls were released without government releasing any member of Boko Haram currently in custody.
He also insisted that government did not make any payment to the insurgents to secure the release of the girls.
Speaking further, the Minister said the release of the girls does not mean there would be an end to military intervention in the North East but has only opened a new phase in the prosecution of the war, as the new found credible link to the insurgents provides a window of opportunities in interfacing genuinely with the terrorists.
On the state of the released girls, Mohammed said government had already assembled a team of experts, such as doctors and psychologists because it was worried about their physical and mental state after spending more than 900 days in captivity.
However, local sources in Borno say four Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the girls.
“The girls were brought to Kumshe, which is 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Banki where a military base is stationed, in ICRC vehicles,” a local source said.
“The four Boko Haram militants were brought to Banki from Maiduguri in a military helicopter from where they were driven to Kumshe in ICRC vehicles.”
According to the source, from Kumshe, the Chibok girls were taken by helicopter to Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state.
“The 21 (Chibok) girls arrived (in) Banki around 3:00 am (0200 GMT) where they found a military helicopter waiting. They were immediately ushered into the helicopter and flown to Maiduguri”, the source said.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews
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