The federal government says the released 21 Chibok schoolgirls were not swapped with Boko Haram prisoners. Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Mohammed said that the government had assembled a team of medical doctors, social workers and psychologists to examine the girls as and when they arrive in Abuja.
He disclosed that they would be in the federal capital territory (FCT) on Thursday afternoon.
“We can confirm that 21 Chibok schoolgirls were release at 5:30am today, and flown to Kaduna. We expect them to arrive in Abuja soon. We have the names of the girls and we are now contacting their parents. As soon as that is done, we will release their names,” he said.
The minister emphasised that the release of the schoolgirls was not secured by a prisoner-swap deal with Boko Haram.
“Please note that this is not a swap, but a release,” he said.
“The release of these girls does not mean an end to military operations, but it is a new phase in the war against insurgency.”
He said that the release of the girls was secured through “confidence building” with Boko Haram.
Mohammed added that President Muhammadu Buhari was ready to do all he could to bring the insurgency to an end.
“Mr President has made it clear that whatever he can do to bring the insurgency under control he will do it,” he said.
When asked what the government gave in return for the girls, Mohammed insisted that nothing was given in exchange for them.
“People want to believe bad news than good news. The girls were released, there was no swap,” he said.