One hundred and ninety seven days after they were kidnapped by Boko Haram, three lecturers of University of Maiduguri have been released by the terrorists.
The lecturers were part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil exploration team in the Lake Chad Basin area when they were abducted by Boko Haram members.
The lecturers were releases alongside 10 women police abducted on October 14 , 2017 by the terrorists.
Their release was facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
According to a statement by the ICRC on its official website, the operation in north-east Nigeria, with the ICRC acting as a neutral intermediary, was carried out at the request of the parties to the ongoing armed conflict.
“We are so pleased that these 13 people are free and will be able to see their families again,” said Patrick Youssef, deputy regional director for Africa.
The ICRC said it was not involved in any negotiations that led to the handover of the 13 people.
But it said Boko Haram handed the 13 people over to its representatives who transported them to Nigerian authorities.
This action was similar to what the ICRC did in October 2016 and May 2017, when we transported the released “Chibok girls” to Nigerian officials.
“There are many people missing or being held against their will due to the conflict,” said Youssef.
“This creates untold trauma and suffering, including for families across the Lake Chad region who must live with the daily uncertainty and anguish of not knowing the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones. We hope that these people, too, will get to return to their families soon.”
Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS) Saturday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the release.
A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, all 13 rescued persons are in the custody of the service and are on their way to Abuja with the assistance of the Nigerian Army and the Air Force.
Shehu said a team of doctors and psychologists has been placed on standby in expectation of their returns.
“The rescued persons may be presented to the President and thereafter released to their families, if there are no issues of security or medical concerns.” He said