A report by British newspaper, the Guardian UK, says Boko Haram insurgents begged some parents of the Dapchi schoolgirls, saying they thought they were Christians.
Mohammed Mdada, a vigilante, said he saw the insurgents bringing back the girls Wednesday morning.
He said not all of the girls survived as five were trampled to death in the overcrowded trucks while being driven away.
“Five of them were killed on the day they were taken,” he said.
“They were trampled to death because the vehicle they were in was too crowded.”
He described how the militants apologised, saying they had targeted the girls because they thought they were Christian, not Muslim.
“Boko Haram shook hands with the parents and apologised for abducting them. They said that if they knew they were Muslim girls, they wouldn’t have abducted them,” he said.
“They spoke in the Kanuri language and were dressed in black turbans, and they’d dressed the girls in cream hijabs.
“They warned the girls that they should stay away from school and swore that if they came back and found any girl in school, they’d abduct them again and never give them back.”
Hafsat Abdullahi, whose sister, Fatima included the freed schoolgirls confirmed Mdada’s story. She reportedly put Fatima, a 16-year-old, on the phone to share her experience.
“It took us three days to get back to Dapchi,” said Fatima.
“We were divided into three groups and flown in planes, and taken over rivers in boats.”
Usman Mataba, whose niece was among those returned, said he got a call early in the morning from the security adviser to the Yobe state government, asking him to check if the girls had been returned to Dapchi.
“I went out to check, and met Boko Haram in the middle of the town, close to the police station,” he said.
“They were shouting that all the parents should come and pick up their kids, but people were running away from them.
“I approached them and they told me that they had brought all the girls except six – that five had died on the day they were taken. They said they discovered they were dead when they arrived at their destination, so they buried them.
“They brought the girls in three vehicles, in three batches, and dropped them off close to the police station. The police said they were aware [that Boko Haram would return the girls that morning] and had been deployed to the school.”
Boko Haram militants even stopped to change a tyre before driving back the way they had come, he said.
“One of their tyres had got a puncture and they came down and changed it right there, not far from the police station.”
In the aftermath of the Dapchi attack the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had said that his government would negotiate with the militants, but in a statement on Twitter, said that there had been “backchannel” negotiations and that no ransoms had been paid.