Nigerian Army Releases 250 Boko Haram Suspects
The Nigerian Army has set free some 250 suspects who have been in custody on suspicion of links to dreaded Islamist sect Boko Haram, Punch writes.
In a statement released Monday, Army spokesman Col Sani Usman said those released include 169 men, 46 women and 34 children, each of them given N3,000 (naira, $10.4, 9.4 euros).
“Yesterday (Sunday), a total of 249 cleared suspected Boko Haram terrorists and accomplices were released… as approved by the chief of army staff in Maiduguri.”
They were handed over to the Borno State government in northeast Nigeria and told “to remain law-abiding and go about their lawful business”, he added.
Most of those held were from Borno, the focal point of the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed at least 20,000 lives and made more than 2.6 million homeless since 2009.
There was also one from Lagos in the southwest, 1,200 kilometres (760 miles) away from the epicenter of the insurgency, along with two from neighbouring Cameroon.
Nigeria’s military has come under criticism for what has been called ‘the arbitrary detention of civilians’ during the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and other parts of the country.
Human rights groups have accused the army of dehumanizing the suspects, leading to many of them dying from disease, hunger, dehydration and injury.
Security experts have asserted that arbitrary detention has robbed the military of key on-the-ground intelligence from local people as widespread arrests have led to hostility and resentment.
It will be recalled that 275 detainees were freed in February, including 50 children.
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