Nigeria on Saturday said it had negotiated the release of 82 of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists more than three years ago, securing their freedom in a prisoner swap deal.
The presidency announced that negotiations to release more of the Chibok girls had “yielded results.”
“Today 82 more Chibok girls were released,” it said.
“After lengthy negotiations, our security agencies have taken back these girls, in exchange for some Boko Haram suspects held by the authorities.”
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) May 6, 2017
The release of the 82 girls comes just over six months after 21 of their classmates were freed with the help of international mediators.
According to the presidency, the girls were to be taken to Abuja on Sunday to meet President Muhammadu Buhari. The President thanked security agencies, the Swiss government, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), local and international NGOs, for playing part in ensuring the return of the girls.
The release of the 21 girls in October last year followed talks between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government brokered by the ICRC and the Swiss.
Boko Haram’s Shekau has previously said the girls would be released if militant fighters held in Nigerian government custody were freed.