Two days after they handed over some 42 suspected Boko Haram terrorists to the Borno state government, military officials at the 7 Division of the Nigeria Army today freed yet another set of 125 suspects after weeks of investigation absolved them of alleged complicity with the terrorist group.
The spokesman of the 7 Division, Maiduguri, Usman Sani, a colonel, told journalists during the ongoing handover ceremony that the 125 released suspects were part of the 152 Boko Haram suspects arrested in September this year.
He said after thorough military investigation, the 125 were deemed clean and had to be released.
The 125 released suspects were ferried into Maiduguri after a detour journey from Biu through Gombe, via Yobe state to Maiduguri.
One of the released detainees told PREMIUM TIMES, “We have spent over 45 days in military detention but we thank God that our lives were spared. We went through pains and suffering there, but we can’t blame them much since they still were magnanimous to release us at a time human life is no longer valued “.
Security officials had arrested several persons fleeing towns in Northeast Nigeria at the peak of the Boko Haram attacks in September.
Most of them were taken in while hiding in trucks conveying livestock to the southern part of the country.
Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, is yet to take delivery of the suspects as he is still being awaited to disengage from another function to receive them.
The military had on Thursday released a first batch of 42 suspects.
The 42 suspects, after months and years in detention, were cleared of all suspicions following thorough investigations.
The military said three of the 42 released suspects were foreigners from Chad, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
Mr. Usman, who handed the freed suspects over to Governor Kashim Shettima, said they were arrested during various military raids.
Mr. Usman said each of the freed prisoners were given N100,000 to enable them continue with their normal lives as free citizens.
“We in the Nigeria army will continue to do our best in the ongoing fight against insurgency until we get rid of this problem,” he said.
Mr. Shetima commended the military for its magnanimity.
“We commend the fairness, equity and justice displayed by the Nigeria Armed Forces towards releasing anybody found not to be involved in these terrorist activities,” he said.
“Amongst them are students, tailors, mechanics, provision stores owners and of course, quite a handful of them are drivers. We have a moral obligation to ensure that these young men at this time of their lives are actively engaged. Along this line, I wish to direct the road maintenance agency to include those that are drivers as employed truck drivers, while those that are tailors should be engaged in sewing uniforms for students and pupils in line with our education transformation program.
“Those that are farmers should be given the resources to improve their farming; while the traders would be given some token in addition to what the military gave them to boost their trade. The students among them should be assisted to return to school.”
Some of the freed prisoners had spent detention times ranging from three years, two years to some months. They were full of gratitude to get what one of them, a 300-level student of Chemistry, said was another chance at life.