Nigeria Dapchi abductions: Schoolgirls finally home


Some of the newly-released Dapchi schoolgirls board a plane in Maiduguri, Nigeria March 21, 2018.Image copyright
Reuters

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The girls were flown to and from Abuja on a military plane

More than 100 Nigerian schoolgirls, most of those recently kidnapped by Boko Haram, have gone home to their families, four days after being freed.

The jihadist group abducted the girls from the town of Dapchi in February.

After their release from captivity and a brief emotional meeting with their parents, the schoolgirls were flown to the capital to meet the president.

The girls – warned by Boko Haram not to return to school – were escorted back to Dapchi by Nigerian soldiers.

As well as meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, the newly-released girls underwent medical and security screenings.

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Reuters

Image caption

The girls were taken from a boarding school in Dapchi, Yobe state, in February

The schoolgirls, who were kidnapped from their boarding school on 19 February, were reportedly released by the side of a road almost five weeks later.

A total of 110 girls were originally kidnapped, but five did not survive the ordeal and one other – a Christian who refused to convert to Islam – is still being held.

The Nigerian government has said it will not abandon the “lone Dapchi girl”.

“The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring [her] safely back home to her parents,” a statement said.

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Reuters

Image caption

Parents have been overjoyed following the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls

The government denies claims that Boko Haram was paid a ransom for the girls’ freedom, or that there was a prisoner swap.

Information Minister Lai Mohammad told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that the girls’ return was part of ongoing talks about an amnesty in return for a ceasefire.


Joy and jubilation

Chris Ewokor, BBC News, Abuja

The girls arrived in Dapchi aboard a convoy of five buses at about 13:30 GMT. Their parents were already waiting expectantly when they arrived. There was joy and jubilation as they jumped into their parents’ embraces.

The newly-released school girls had spent three days with the Nigerian authorities after being released by Boko Haram last week.

But the parents of the lone Christian girl were isolated from the celebrations. Their daughter is still being held by the jihadist group for reportedly refusing to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the warning by the militants that the freed girls should never return to school hangs a shadow over their return home.


President Buhari’s administration had been under pressure to resolve the Dapchi abduction, which revived painful memories of the 2014 kidnapping of 276 girls from the town of Chibok.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was criticised for his handling of the abductions from a Chibok school, some 275km (170 miles) south-east of Dapchi.

More than half of the girls have been returned but 100 remain missing.

Timeline: How Dapchi abductions unfolded (App users click image)

  • Suspected Boko Haram militants attack a public secondary school for girls in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Dapchi in Yobe state.

  • Nigerian government confirms 110 girls missing.

  • Yobe state government announces rescue of some of the girls from “terrorists who abducted them” and says they are with the army.

    Read more here

  • The Yobe state government retracts the statement and apologises for misleading the public, saying: “No girl was rescued”.

    Read more here

  • President Muhammadu Buhari calls the abduction of the schoolgirls in Dapchi a “national disaster”.

    Read more here

  • Nigerian Air Force announces deployment of military aircraft and additional personnel for search and rescue mission.

  • Nigerian army denies claims by Yobe State Governor that soldiers were removed from Dapchi before the girls’ abduction. The army then admits it redeployed soldiers away from the town, saying the area was “relatively secure”.

    Read more here

  • Federal government launches investigation into the circumstances leading to abduction and releases full details of the 110 missing schoolgirls.

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  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he “strongly condemns the abduction and attack”.

  • Local human rights activist Aisha Wakil, known as “Mama Boko Haram” because she has known some of the militants since they were children, is quoted in reports saying that the Barnawi faction of Boko Haram confirmed to her that it was holding the girls.

  • Women hold a protest in the capital Abuja, three weeks after the girls’ abduction.

  • President Muhammadu Buhari announces plan to negotiate the girls’ release, rather than use military force.

  • President Buhari makes his first visit to Dapchi, assuring parents of the missing schoolgirls that the government will secure the girls’ rescue.

  • Amnesty International claims Nigerian army ignored repeated warnings of an attack on Dapchi town, hours before militants abducted the girls.

    Read more here

  • Nigerian government announces that 104 of the 110 abducted schoolgirls have been freed.

    Read more here



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