By Ese Awhotu with agency report
The Nigerian Army yesterday disclosed that it has freed 983 persons it arrested and detained for alleged links with Boko Haram fighters.
The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Olusegun Adeniyi who disclosed this at a ceremony yesterday, said that the suspects were released after clearing them of having links to the Boko Haram group.
He also said that they have been handed over to the Borno State Government.
The suspects had been in a military detention centre in Maiduguri until yesterday when they breathed freedom.
Some of them said they were held in the detention centre for over three years.
Adeniyi, said the suspects, who include five females, were taken into custody following strong allegations that they were accomplices or aiding and abetting Boko Haram.
“The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded; therefore the first step towards peace in any theatre is to replace the widespread culture of war with the culture of peace,” he said.
According to Adeniyi, the handing over of the 983 former suspects was not only significant to the people and government of Borno State but is also a milestone in the armed forces’ resolve to uphold its constitutional duty.
Mr Adeniyi reassured the government and people of the state that the armed forces will not intimidate, harass or coerce any person “unjustly.”
He said more suspects are still in custody and promised that they too would undergo similar vetting procedures and if absolved “they would surely be released and reunited with their families.”
However, Ibrahim Usman, one of those released, said he was arrested on the streets on suspicion of being a Boko Haram member when he failed to provide valid identification to soldiers at a checkpoint.
“I was never a member of Boko Haram but I spent four years in detention,” Usman told reporters at the ceremony.
Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, who received the released persons, thanked the military for freeing them.
“We remain eternally grateful for all you have been doing for us and we pray for Allah to crown your efforts with a lasting peace in Borno and the northeast region,” the governor said.