The Nigerian army on Wednesday released nearly 1,000 detainees suspected of belonging to Boko Haram after having cleared them of any alleged links with the jihadist group that is carrying out a bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, correspondents said. AFP.
A total of 983 people detained in a military prison in the northeastern city of Maiduguri were handed over to the civil authorities for their « rehabilitation and integration ».
The commander of the Nigerian army, Olusegun Adeniyi, said in a ceremony that the released were « previously investigated and cleared ».
I was never a member of Boko Haram, but I spent four years in detention
The released detainees, including five women, were handed over to the Governor of Borno State Babagana Umara Zulum at the Giwa military barracks.
According to the governor, the released were not jihadists of Boko Haram, but suspects who, after investigation, were « laundered offenses charged ».
This represents one of the largest releases of detainees by the military at one time.
One of the released detainees, Ibrahim Usman, said he was arrested on the street because he could not provide a valid ID to soldiers during a check.
« I was never a member of Boko Haram, but I spent four years in detention, » he told reporters.
In October, the army released 25 children after the publication of a damning report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusing members of the military of causing child abuse and torture.
Human rights groups have regularly accused the army of mass and arbitrary arrests of innocent citizens during the decade-long struggle against the jihadist insurgency.
They also criticized living conditions in detention centers as overcrowded and unhealthy, claiming that some detainees had been tortured or even summarily executed.
The conflict in northeastern Nigeria left 35,000 dead and two million displaced. The violence spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.