Catholic Leaders have welcomed the release of 21 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, and urged the Nigerian government to prioritise the release of the remaining girls.

Altogether 276 girls were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok in April 2014; 57 escaped the same day and one two years later.

The release of 21 girls on October 13 was part of a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss and Nigerian governments.

Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, retired Archbishop of Lagos, said he had mixed feelings when he heard the news, because of the lengthy delay before their release and concerns about the girls’ welfare during their detainment.

“It is cheering news to the parents that they would be reunited with their abducted daughters,” he told US Catholic News Service.

Cardinal Okogie blamed the previous administration for not sanctioning the governor of the state under whose watch the incident happened. He also said the nation’s school system was becoming “a laughing stock” following kidnappings that occurred recently in two different schools in Lagos state.

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