NIGERIAN Army commanders have handed over 983 Boko Haram suspects to the Borno State government after they were cleared of having any links with the terrorist sect and deemed safe to live within society.
Boko Haram has been waging a war against the Nigerian state since 2009 and as part of an amnesty programme, militants have been offered retraining and integration into society if they lay down their arms. Also, suspects arrested and investigated but found to have no links with the terrorists, get re-integrated under a retraining and rehabilitation programme.
Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military mission to finish off Boko Haram, handed over the latest suspects to civilian authorities in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. He disclosed that the suspects comprised of 978 males and five females who had been detained at a military facility over suspected links with the insurgents.
According to Major General Adeniyi, the suspects were cleared of any links with insurgents and certified fit for reintegration with their families and society by the joint investigative panel set up by the authorities. He added: “The release of the detainees marks a milestone in the Operation Lafiya Dole to defeat the insurgency and restore peace to the region.
“I call on the insurgents to surrender to enable them to benefit from opportunities of the programme as their aim for a caliphate will not be actualised and I call on the insurgents to surrender. Let Shekau and Albarnawi die alone, they are defeated and you should not die with them.”
While commending the Borno Government over its support to the military, Major general Adeniyi advocated for a skill training programme to enable the released suspects to learn trades and engage in productive activities. Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno commended the gesture, adding that the event is significant in paving the way to end to the insurgency.
Governor Zulum called on the people of Borno State to accept the released detainees, stressing that they were proven to be a free and innocent sequel to investigations conducted by the investigative committee. He called on the Nigerian Army to adopt proactive measures to release innocent persons in its facilities in accordance with the law.
Furthermore, Governor Zulum said that the affected persons would be transferred to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre, Bulumkutu, before reintegration with their families and society. He added that the state government would provide skill training and empowerment support to enable them to engage in productive activities.
Also speaking, Ahmed Jidda, one of the released detainees, thanked God for regaining his freedom. Mr Jidda, who hailed from Adamawa, said he was detained for about three years at the military, noting that the army had adopted proactive measures to take care of their need and improvement of the well being of the inmates.
He added: “We are fed, sheltered and clothed. Nobody abused or maltreated us at the centre.”