ABDULLAHI ISAH, Maiduguri
The Joint Military Force in the North East, ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ has freed 275 suspected Boko Haram insurgents from detention after clearing them of involvement and connection with the terrorist group.
While handing over the detainees to Governor Kashim Shettima at the Maimalari Cantonment of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Thursday, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj Gen Hassan Umaru, said the detainees were picked up from different locations in the state for alleged involvement in terrorism and insurgency.
“The detainees have been properly screened and cleared by a crack team of joint investigators comprising various security agencies and decided to release them over to their families through the Borno State government.”
“In line with the principle of justice, equity and fairness, we release then to their families,” he said.
He, however, urged the released detainees to remain law-abiding and see their detention as a ‘sacrifice.’
“You should see your detention as sacrifice to the peace process in the state and the nation. I am confident that you will be good ambassadors of the Nigerian military,” he said.
The Theater commander said 142 of the 275 detainees are males, 49 females, 22 under-aged (males) and 50 female children with two foreign nationals from Niger and Cameroun, adding that eight cases that were criminal in nature will be handed over to the Nigerian Police for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Speaking at the occasion, Gov Kashim Shettima commended the military for being fair, and assured that the government will assist the released detainees to start a new life, while the children among them will return to school,
“This is about the fourth or fifth time you are releasing cleared Boko Haram suspects to us. This indicates the justice, fairness, and professionalism in the Nigerian military. I, therefore, call on all citizens to support the military so that we will have enduring peace in the state, north-east and the country at large”.
General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Victor Ezugwu, in his remark, said the military will continue to respect fundamental rights of the people in the area of its operation.
Commenting, one of the released detainees, Alhaji Sani Kebbi, a fisherman from Baga said he was arrested five months ago in Baga saying that “we thank Almighty God and the Nigerian military for regaining our freedom, as we can now re-unite with our families and carry out our businesses as free citizens.”