The more than 100 schoolgirls released four days ago by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria were returned to their families yesterday (25 March), the BBC reports.
Immediately after their release they were flown to the capital, Abuja, for medical and security screening, and to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Meanwhile questions are being asked as to why Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old Christian girl, was not part of the deal brokered by the government to secure the students’ release. Her parents were told that the militants did not want to let her go because she refused to denounce her Christian faith – she was the only Christian among the abductees.
“We are perplexed and saddened that Leah was excluded from the agreement that was brokered for the return of the children,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said.
Last week the government pledged that it would “not relent in efforts to bring [her] safely back home to her parents”.
The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria has called on the government “to live up to its responsibility and uphold the tenets and principles of the Nigerian constitution”.
“Every citizen has a right to be protected irrespective of his/her gender, culture and religious belief,” the group said, calling on Buhari to “ensure [her] immediate release … and the other remaining Chibok girls”.
The girls were reportedly warned by the militants not to return to school. CSW said the government should “protect educational establishments in vulnerable communities and to ensure that every girl is free to pursue an education without fear”.
One hundred and ten schoolgirls were abducted on 19 February from the government girls’ school and technical college in Dapchi, Yobe state, in the country’s northeast. On 21 March, the abductors surprised the girls’ parents and community when they released 104 of the girls. Five others are reported to have died during the month of captivity.