The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said negotiations are ongoing for the release of more Chibok schoolgirls still in the custody of Boko Haram terrorists, expressing optimism that the dialogue would yield the desired result.

Vice President Osinbajo made this known, at an interaction with journalists and activists at the state house in Abuja. “There is a lot of negotiation going on,” adding that government had “gone quite far” with negotiations to free more girls, but did not provide details of the negotiations for apparent security reasons.

This came as the United Nations Childrens’ Fund, UNICEF, reported that Boko Haram insurgents have used a total of 117 children, mainly girls, to carry out suicide bomb attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon since 2014. It called for stoppage of recruitment and use of children in armed conflict as ‘suicide bombers.’

During the meeting with newsmen, Vice President Osinbajo hinted that one of the challenges of freeing the girls was the existence of two factions in Boko Haram, with each faction holding on to some of the girls.

One of the factions is led by Abubakar Shekau, the erstwhile leader of the group, while a breakaway faction is led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, believed to be a son of the late founder of the group, Mohammed Yusuf. Osinbajo, however, said the Buhari administration was very committed to the release of the remaining Chibok girls and other captives held by the terrorists.

“It is a matter of conscience that concerns everyone,” he added. It will be recalled that Boko Haram seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014.

About 57 of the girls managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the abduction, while negotiations between the Federal Government and Boko Haram led to the release of 21 of the schoolgirls.

Another three were freed by soldiers, while dozens others escaped on their own.

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