The Nigerian Army has released 275 persons detained following suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities.
Forty-nine out of the detainees are women while 22 are minors. Two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians are also among those released.
Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Hassan Umaru, handed over the detainees not found culpable to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in a ceremony at the 7th Division Headquarters Maimalari Barracks.
“In line with the principles of equity, justice and fairness, we deem it fit to release them to their families.
“Their stay in detention has not been palatable due to restrictions imposed and loss of freedom. We see it as their contribution and sacrifice to the return of peace to our country,” he said
Governor Kashim Shettima noted that vindicating the detainees is a testimony to the professionalism of the Nigerian Army.
He urged the freed suspects to be worthy ambassadors of the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
The suspects were picked from various spots within and outside Maiduguri in different raids six months ago.
The former Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah, had in July 2015 released 182 suspects. 128 others were released in September 2015.
A total of 582 persons have so far been released from military detention facilities under the operation.
Nigerian Army Chiefs have met in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to strategise in a desperate attempt to meet up with the December 31 deadline set by President Muhammadu Buhari to stamp out Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria.
The meeting took place at the Military Command and Control Centre in Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Tukur Buratai, and the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Abubakar Yusha’u, were also present at the meeting.
The CDS expressed regret over the loss of lives recently recorded in the front lines. He described it as a setback to the operations, but expressed optimism owing to the successes so far recorded in the operations.
President Buhari had expressed confidence that Boko Haram’s ability to attack, seize, ravage and hold any Nigerian territory would be completely wiped out by the end of December 2015.
Director, Defence Information in the Army, Major-General Chris Olukolade, in a press statement on Friday said “the online report titled ‘Second Mutiny in Maimalari Barracks as Soldiers Manhandled Commander’ is not true.”
The Nigerian Military has been under fire in recent times for a seeming incapability to bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end.
A media platform online had reported a case of mutiny in Maimalari Barracks, but according to Olukolade, “what the online outlet garnished and dubbed as ‘mutiny’ was just a presentation of complaints by representatives of personnel families who wanted the ban on motorcycles as a means of public transportation in the barracks reversed.”
The statement further read that “soldiers were not involved and there was no single shot fired by soldiers throughout the period as claimed in the report.”
The Major-General explained that the ban was part of security measures put in place for the safety of the soldiers and their families. “The Acting General Officer Commanding obliged their request and directed a suspension of the ban pending when the planned alternative transportation arrangement is put in place. He was not insulted or manhandled as reported.”
“The imputation of mutiny was concocted by the online medium ostensibly to raise false alarm and create the impression of disquiet in the military. It is very obvious that a section of the media is feasting on the current security challenges and is desperate to sustain the tempo of the crisis through sensational reportage. Mutiny is a very grievous breach that attracts severe sanctions in the military and should not be trivialized by those who do not understand its ramifications.”
“The general public is therefore requested to discountenance the rumours as no such incident took place. The mass media is again requested to beware of lifting stories on the military from online media as this has become the main channel of disseminating falsehood on happenings in the system.”
“In another development, cordon and search exercise has led to the discovery of Rocket Launcher production facility at Dorayi District in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano State. The discovery follows the arrest of a prominent member of the terrorists group. Locally made Anti-Aircraft Gun and Mortar accessories as well as Rocket Propelled Grenade tubes and Launcher along with accessories were recovered. Also seized were three AK47 rifles and hundreds of rounds of assorted ammunition, as well as drilling machines and other fabricating equipment.”
The Army has now urged the general public to report suspicious persons to security agencies in their localities to prevent unwholesome act by terrorists.