Some of the kids confessed to working for Boko Haram.
Some women and young boys who allegedly carried assault rifles, planted bombs, and helped insurgents with information that endangered the lives of soldiers and civilians were on Friday received by the Borno State Government.
The military, acting on the directive of Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, released 20 persons (six women and 14 juveniles) to the Borno State Government for onward rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
The juveniles were aged between 9 and 14.
Governor Kashim Shettima, who received the detainees from officials of the Joint Task Force, said the release of the ex-Boko Haram suspects was a step taken by the federal government in the right direction.
Spokesman of the JTF, Lt Col Sagir Musa, said the released suspects were true members of Boko Haram arrested last year at various locations of Maiduguri, the state capital.
One of the released suspects, a ten-year old, confessed publicly to Governor Shettima that “I usually help Boko Haram to leak information on military activities so that they can attack them. My last job was to travel from Maiduguri to Gashua (320km away) to spy on soldiers before I was caught.”
Another one, a 13-year-old, said, “we usually help Boko Haram to carry stolen items each time and sometimes help them to give information about people they want to attack and sometimes even help to hide their guns after attacks. They pay us N5000 after every operation. I regret what I did, I want to go home and ask for forgiveness from my father and mother for what I did; I also want to go to school.”
A 14-year-old boy said he was arrested in connection with the burning of a school in Maiduguri last year.
“I was arrested because I know those who burnt the school without telling the soldiers. Some people heard me discussing about the people who burnt the school and reported me to the soldiers who arrested me,” he said.
All the six women, who were accused of being informants of Boko Haram, denied the allegation even as they gave excuses for their arrest and detention. They, however, promised to be law abiding citizens once they are integrated back into the society.
Governor Shettima directed the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development to take over the women, train them on various skills of their interest before reintegrating them to their communities. He also directed that photos of the kids be televised “so that their parents or wards could come to claim them after giving government assurances of enrolling them into schools.”
Mr. Shettima added that every parent of the pardoned children who showed evidence of their wards going to school for a stretch of 30 days would be given N10,000 monthly.
Highlight of the hand-over occasion was the presentation of gifts like clothes and cash by the Borno Government.
In a related development, the JTF in Yobe State announced the release of 38 Boko Haram members to the state government.
Spokesman of the Yobe JTF, Lieutenant Eli Lazarus, stated this in a statement sent to journalists.
“In compliance with the defence headquarters, the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe state today (Friday) released first badge of detainees under its custody.
Mr. Lazarus said he presented the detainees to the state government on behalf of the task force.
The detainees released include seventeen women and twenty one children.
Mr. Lazarus said he hoped the release will serve the purpose for which it was intended pointing out that “other detainees will also be released in subsequent badges.”
“Receiving the detainees on behalf of the state government the attorney general and commissioner of justice Ahmed Mustapha Goneri thank the JTF for released saying the detainees will be rehabilitated and integrated into the society,” Mr. Lazarus added.