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Nigeria presidency releases names of 82 freed Chibok girls


Nigeria's presidency released the names of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls newly freed from Boko Haram extremists which parents anxiously scoured to see if their daughters were released three years after their capture.

The list was published early Monday after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met with the young women before leaving for London for medical checkups as fears for his health continue.

Minutes later, the 74-year-old Buhari startled Africa's most populous nation with the news of his departure. The exact nature of his illness remained unclear.

One of his advisers, Femi Adesina, said: "The president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done".

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which said it "facilitated the safe return" of the girls as a "neutral intermediary", tweeted photographs of a line of girls boarding a military helicopter.

"The federal government will like to commend the security agencies, the Red Cross, local authorities, local and foreign NGOs and all those who contributed in one way or another to secure the release of our Chibok Girls".

NAN reports that the reception was attended by ministers, service chiefs and other government officials.

Now in its eighth year, Boko Haram's insurgency has sought to create an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria, as well as in the bordering regions of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

"On behalf of all Nigerians, I will like to share my joy with you, your parents, your relatives, friends and Government of Borno State on regaining your freedom", Mr. Buhari was quoted as saying by his spokesperson. A handful of other girls have either escaped or been rescued, but 113 still remained unaccounted for following Saturday's release.

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The Rev. Enoch Mark, whose two daughters have been among the missing, was still awaiting word if they were among those freed.

Pernille Ironside, acting representative of Unicef Nigeria, told Sky News: "These girls have faced horrific and unspeakable crimes and experiences".

Human rights advocates also fear some of the girls have been used by Boko Haram to carry out suicide bombings.

The girls released in October have been reported to be in government care in Abuja for medical attention, trauma counselling and rehabilitation, according to the government. Before Saturday's release, 195 of the girls had been captive.

"These girls have been in captivity for three years and they've gone through very hard, challenging and horrendous experiences".

They should be quickly released to their families and not be subjected to lengthy government detention, Amnesty International's Nigeria office said, adding that the girls don't deserve to be put through a "publicity stunt" and deserve privacy.

The 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in 2014 are among thousands of people abducted by Boko Haram over the years. The brutality of the act sparked a global outcry, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls sweeping social media and unifying outraged citizens and political leaders alike, including then-first lady Michelle Obama.

December 24, 2016: Nigeria's president declares that Boko Haram has been crushed, driven from its last forest hideout.

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