The Nigerian military on Friday released 275 persons, including two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians, who were arrested and detained in connection with Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.
The Head (Theatre Commander) of the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Hassan Umaru, disclosed during the handover of the suspects to the Borno State Government that they were picked from different locations in the state for alleged involvement in terrorism and insurgency.
He said the military decided to let them go free after they were found not guilty, saying that the persons were “properly profiled, screened and cleared,” to reunite with their families.
Describing their detention as a sacrifice that was paid to bring peace to the troubled region, Umaru said “In line with the principle of justice, equity and fairness, we released them to their families.”
The Army Commander, during a brief ceremony at Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, said “I am confident that the detainees will be ambassadors to the Nigerian military.”
He revealed that 142 of the 275 detainees are males, 49 females, 22 under-aged (male) and 50 female children.
According to him, others include two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians.
He, however, added that eight cases that were criminal in nature would be handed over to the Nigerian Police for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, while receiving the detainees on behalf of their families, commended the military for being “fair”.
He promised that the government would assist the released detainees to start a new life.
“The children among you will be returned to school,” he said.
General Officer Commander, 7 Division Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Victor Ezugwu, in his remark, said the military would continue to respect the fundamental rights of the people in the area of its operation. He urged those still living in areas under Boko Haram control to move closer to military locations where they would be protected.