For lecturers of the University of Maiduguri, and 10 women abducted by Boko Haram terrorists, they had lost hope of ever been rescued, but today, they are elated that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration never gave up on them.
Read Dr Solomon Yusuf, who spoke on behalf of the abductees that met the President at the State House in Abuja on Monday: “While we were in captivity and we said with 180 million or more Nigerians, will Nigeria ever come to rescue us! We lost hope.
“Sir, you surprised us. After seven months for us in the university and eight months for the 10 ladies (also rescued from Boko Haram captivity), Nigeria rescued us. This shows that the life of every Nigerian is important and is worth rescuing.
“Sir, we are grateful. You gave us hope when there was no hope And we are excited, we thank you Sir.
“We also want to appreciate the DSS, the Nigerian armed forces, and the entire team that worked together to make sure we regained our freedom.’’
Yusuf spoke for two other lecturers seeking for oil in the Lake Chad Basin with him; and 10 women abducted on their way to a burial ceremony in Borno State.
Giving details of how the Department of State Services (DSS) was able to achieve the feat, it’s director-general, Lawal Daura said: “Mr. President, the search and negotiations for the rescue of the victims commenced in earnest following your directives to the effect that all abducted persons must be found and rescued alive.
“However, we chose the path of negotiation because it was considered as the safest because any forceful attempt to rescue the victims could endanger their lives.
“These negotiations took several months and the Department of State Services with support of the external elements of the group in diaspora and support from friendly countries and liaising with International Committee of the Red Cross, made the rescue possible.
“In addition, the negotiations took place mostly outside the country, though subsequently finalised in the theatre of operations.
“The negotiations were mainly centered on an attempt at conflict mitigation which include the fate of arrested members of the insurgent groups especially, accepting to free by government those found not to be culpable in any criminal action.
“Also, possible cessation of hostilities especially the attacks with IEDs on innocent civilians, worship centres, schools and other public places in return for temporary stoppage of air strikes by helicopter gunships.
“Lastly, the negotiation was also centered on the possibility of granting amnesty to those willing to surrender and ready to lay down their arms by the federal government,”
Speaking later, President Buhari assured that all abducted persons by insurgent groups, including the schoolgirls from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, would be rescued safely.
His words: “Let me clearly reiterate the resolve of this administration to ensure all persons abducted by insurgents are rescued or released safely.
“This is especially against the back drop of the recent sad incident where another group of girls were abducted on Feb. 19 from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe.
“I have since directed all security agencies to immediately ensure that every effort is directed to ensure safety of our schools and students as well as bringing back the abducted girls to their families….
“While government was fully aware of the expectations of your families and the general public for their immediate freedom, the path to your freedom was painstaking and protracted.
“This was because the group responsible for your abduction was not in a particular location but based in different locations that if not properly handled could result in dire consequences.”
For Jummai Ibrahim, who was about to complete her service year when the she was abducted, the President ordered the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to give her a certificate of discharge.