In Dapchi there was jubilation and shock at the unexpected arrival of the girls.
One of the girl’s parents, Kundili Bukar, told the BBC the militants drove into the town in a motorcade in the early hours of Wednesday morning and surrendered the girls to the community.
The militants are said to have left immediately. However, another parent told the BBC the extremists left them with a warning not to send their daughters back to school, threatening to return and kidnap them once more – only this time, there would be no chance of release.
The girls, who are described as being hungry and looking tired by parents, have been taken to hospital.
Analysis: This changes nothing
Tomi Oladipo, the BBC’s Africa security correspondent, explains why an IS-backed faction of Boko Haram, suspected to be behind the Dapchi girls abduction, is using a different playbook.
The return of more than 70 Dapchi schoolgirls indicates that a Boko Haram faction, led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, is taking a different approach to kidnappings.
Negotiations for the Chibok girls’ release proved difficult under Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau. More than 100 of them still remain in captivity.
But despite reports, Wednesday’s release did not come free. Boko Haram definitely got something in return for waltzing back into Dapchi and dropping off the girls.
The problem going forward is that this will encourage the IS-linked militants to hit jackpot once again by raiding another community and abducting another set of people.
The Nigerian government might feel like it has averted the kind of global disrepute that plagued the administration of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, following its poor response to the kidnapping of the Chibok girls.
But this is only a minor PR victory for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Boko Haram and its various factions suffered no losses on Wednesday and they will remain a scourge in Nigeria.
The girls were taken from their school on the evening of Monday, 19 February, by a group of militants who had attacked the town of Dapchi.
Originally, it was claimed many of the girls had escaped and no-one had been kidnapped. But a week later, authorities admitted they were taken by the Islamist militants.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari came under increasing pressure to secure the girls’ release, especially as the kidnapping raised uncomfortable parallels with the abduction of the Chibok girls, who were taken from their school in neighbouring Borno state in April 2014.
More than 100 of the 276 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls remain in captivity.