Three lecturers of the University of Maiduguri kidnapped by the Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi in July 2017 have been released, the Nigerian government said on Saturday.
Also released were 10 women kidnapped in a raid by the militant group on a convoy on Damboa road, near Maiduguri.
“Their release followed a series of negotiations as directed by President Buhari, and was facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said.
He said all the 13 rescued persons were in the custody of the service and are on their way to Abuja with the assistance of the Nigerian Army and the Air Force and may meet the president.
“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,” Shehu said.
ICRC, however, said in a separate statement on Saturday night that it was not involved in the negotiation that led to the release of the kidnapped persons.
It said the 13 freed people were handed over to its officials by the insurgents and were later taken to Nigerian officials.
“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,” the statement said.
Not less than 69 people were killed in the raid which targeted a military and police convoy, according to an AFP report. The vice-chancellor of UNIMAID Professor Ibrahim Njodi said five members of staff from the university – two lecturers, two technologists and a driver – were among those killed.
The three men released on Saturday were part of an NNPC team on a mission to find commercial quantities of crude oil in the Lake Chad basin.
Shortly after their kidnap, the three men appeared in a video released by the insurgents, pleading for a government intervention.
“I want to call on the acting president professor Yemi Osinbajo to come to our rescue to meet the demand,” one of the men said in the video.
He attributed the attack to the Islamic State-supported Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, which has vowed to hit military and government targets.