After 3 years in detention, Army releases 983 men falsely suspected to be Boko Haram members

Borno Governor says the military “is not happy about detaining innocent civilians.”

A group of men identified by Nigerian police as Boko Haram extremist fighters and leaders are shown to the media, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (AP)

The military on Wednesday, November 27, 2019, said the men, who have been in detention for more than three years were released after they were found to have been falsely suspected.

Speaking on their release, Borno State Gov. Babagana Zulum, said the military “is not happy about detaining innocent civilians.”

The Governor added that the release of the 983 people “signals the beginning of peace” in Borno state.

It’s not clear how many people remain in the army’s custody, but Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, who leads the Nigerian counterinsurgency force in the region, has said that the remaining ‘suspects’ will undergo similar vetting for possible release.

He argued that the detention of the men was necessary to protect the state.

While addressing the freed men, Adeniyi said, “I know this experience will continue to remain fresh in your memories, please understand that it was done in the line of duty.”

However, it as reported that all the men except five will undergo a government rehabilitation program for a month before being reunited with families.

The freed men were not allowed to speak to journalists, but one of them, Ahmadu Jidda, a 48-year-old trader, who spoke to CTVNews said, he had been in detention since 2016, adding that the army did not torture them.

He said, “Since then I have not spoken to my wife and family.”

A 24-yr-old woman among the freed ‘suspects’, who identified herself as Fatmata reportedly said, she was detained about a year ago after being falsely accused of helping Boko Haram.

“I really do not know why such falsehood was meted upon me but God has proven my innocence,” she said.

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