Schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram group in Dapchi, northeastern Nigeria, were reunited with their families on Sunday after spending nearly five weeks in captivity.
The 105 girls, covered head to toe in burqas, arrived aboard five buses in the town of Dapchi, in Yobe state, where they were greeted by their parents at the boarding school from where they were snatched on Feb. 19.
After their release on Wednesday they had spent three days in the capital, Abuja, and were greeted by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kachalla Bukar, the father of one of the girls who is spokesman for the parents, said they were flown to the major northern city of Maiduguri from Abuja, then transferred under military escort to Dapchi.
Top officials were on hand for a solemn ceremony in which the parents regained custody of their children.
“My joy knows no bounds,” Mai Saleh Gaji said after being reunited with both his daughter and his granddaughter.
“The nightmare of the kidnap will not deter me from sending them to school,” he added.
However, for Ali Gashomu, the kidnap of his daughter just hours after she was enrolled at the school for the first time had left him “traumatized and terrified” and undecided about whether she should return.
Nigerian Minister of Information Lai Mohammed said the girls were released following negotiations with the insurgents and that no ransom payment or prisoner swap was carried out.
The girls were among 111 seized last month, of whom five apparently died.
Their release leaves one schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, still in the hands of the kidnappers, reportedly because she is a Christian who has refused to convert to Islam.