The faction of Boko haram which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State freed 21 of the kidnapped Chibok girls last week, with more plans to release 83 more Chibok girls.
The spokesman for President Buhari, Garba Shehu, confirmed on Sunday that the IS-allied faction of Boko Haram plans to release 83 more Chibok girls.
These girls are part of 200+ girls who were abducted from their school in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria in 2014. Although there have been reports of some of the girls escaping, as well as rescue missions by the Nigerian military, the release of the 21 girls is the first sign of an intentional act of bringing them back, thanks to the Red Cross and the Swiss government.
Garba Shehu, spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone:
“These 21 released girls are supposed to be tale bearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls.”
“The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them,” said Shehu, adding that the Nigerian government is ready to negotiate with this faction of Boko Haram.
The IS-allied sect of Boko Haram stated that the other Chibok girls are under the wings of the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram.
Last month it was revealed that there are indeed two sects in Boko Haram. Although the Islamic extremist group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (In Syria) in 2015, there’s a group that’s not allied to it.
In August the Islamic State announced Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of Boko Haram, however, a few days later an audio emerged claiming that Abubakar Shekau was still in charge, thereby making known the existing discord in the sect.
When reached for a comment on what was traded in exchange for the release of the Chibok girls, President Buhari, who was at the time in Germany, said he could not give a concrete comment until he returns to Nigeria. The President returned to Nigeria on Saturday.
However, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has insisted that the return of the girls was not a swap but a release.