`Pursue your dreams', Buhari tells Dapchi girls

Frederick Owens
March 26, 2018

Mohammed made his statement in an email to Reuters outlining the background to the release of more than 100 schoolgirls freed last week by the group after being kidnapped on February 19 from the northeastern town of Dapchi.

Nigeria's government is in talks with Islamist militant group Boko Haram about a possible ceasefire, with the ultimate aim of securing a permanent cessation of hostilities, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Sunday.

"You know, I move with helicopter, and by the time I fly into the area they (Boko Haram) may think I break what the understanding may have been there". "She likes school very much and she likes church activities very much".

President Buhari speaks when he received the Dapchi schoolgirls and others at the State House in Abuja on March 23, 2018.

"The security services have since been directed to put in place further measures around all schools vulnerable to attacks to ensure the safety of our pupils, students and teachers and school workers", he said.

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On the approach taken to secure the girls' release, he said: "We reached out to our contacts at home and overseas, we embarked on backchannel shuttles with a clear view to bringing to an end this tragedy".

Leah was said to have been denied the chance to return home alongside her schoolmates because of her refusal to renounce her faith. "This strategy paid off as the girls have been released without any incidents", the President added. "We did it out of pity". The released schoolgirls confirm Boko Haram fighters warned them they would be kidnapped again if they went back to school. "I must send my children to school", Sharibu said. "Due to the prayers of the nation, I feel Leah will be released".

Freed girls and parents have said Sharibu is Christian and still captive "because they want to convert her to Islam".

Expressing delight over her stance, the girl's father prayed for her safe return.

They were held there for several hours and then taken to Abuja, where on Friday they were to meet the president, Muhammadu Buhari, in his villa, surrounded by cameras, as he declared their release "cheery and hearty".

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