The Nigerian Army on Friday released 275 detainees it had earlier thought to members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect. The detainees include 271 Nigerians and two nationals each of the republics of Cameroon and Niger.
Theater Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Hassan Umaru handed over the detainees to the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima at a ceremony in Maiduguri, the state capital.
He explained that “Today we are releasing 275 persons who have been in detention over suspicion of being involved in terrorism.
Our crack team of joint investigators has screened and cleared the persons that are in the process of being released here today.”
The Theater Commander further disclosed that the detainees included 142 males, 49 females, 22 under aged and 50 children of cleared females.
“The persons being released comprise 142 males 49 females, 22 under aged, 50 children of cleared females, two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians,” he said, stressing that they were being released in line with the principles of justice and fair play.
Umaru, who expressed sadness over their detention and urged them to consider it as their contribution to efforts to return peace in the country, said, “Their stay in detention had not been palatable due to restrictions imposed on them and loss of freedom.
“However, I see it as their sacrifice and contribution toward the return of peace in our country.”
He said that the army transferred eight other suspects to the police for further investigations, adding that “eight cases that are criminal in nature will be transferred to the police for further action.”
“We wish to assure Nigerians that no individual will be unjustly or unduly incarcerated.
“‘We remained committed to the protection of fundamental Human rights of every citizen of Nigeria and foreigners alike,” Umaru stated.
While receiving the detainees, Governor Shettima commended the military for a job well done, noting that the action had confirmed that the military was a respecter of the law.
According to him, “Today bears a sense of professionalism, justice, equity and fairness of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“The 275 suspects were picked from several locations at different times and were adjudged to be clean after through investigations.
“This action bears testimony to the fact that we are running a very professional force, contrary to insinuations from several quarters speculating arbitrary killings, detention and dehumanisation of suspects.
“This is about the third or the fourth time we are receiving detainees to be reunited with their families,” he said.
The Governor continued that “The Nigerian Army deserves special commendation for all the sacrifices it has been making for us to have peace in this part of the world.
“We want to urge the detainees to be worthy ambassadors to go back home and be the catalysts for promoting peace and development in our society.
“As a responsible government, we are going to give tokens to each of the detainees.
“Those that can be trained in vocational skills and other professions will be trained in specific professions.
“For those of school age, we will insist with the parents that they must have access to education.
“Education is a right and not a privilege and it is compulsory in this part of the world,” he stated.