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Release of 500 gives hope to women whose relatives are still being detained by military

21 February 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

Hundreds of women are still waiting for their husbands, sons and brothers to be released from the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State

The Nigerian Army has released 500 men in Borno State who were detained 11 years ago on suspicion they were insurgents or working to undermine the government.

The men were released in batches from the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, on Friday, February 16.

Hundreds of women in Maiduguri and other parts of the state are still waiting for their husbands, sons and brothers to be released.

Falmata Bukar, whose husband is still in detention, told RNI that she had not heard from him for 11 years.

“My husband was arrested because he was suspected of being a member of Boko Haram [the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād – JAS]. I have not heard from him and no one from the military has been in contact with me. I don’t even know if he is alive or dead.

“Soldiers came to our house 11 years ago and arrested my husband. I am happy for the women whose husbands, sons and brothers have been released. It gives me hope that my husband will be released soon.”

Hajja Kaka, a mother five, said her husband was also still in detention.

“He was arrested more than 10 years ago. I believe he is still alive. I would be extremely pleased if the army released him. I want him back home again, safe and sound with his family again.

“If the government can forgive 500 men who were suspected of being insurgents, then I have hope that my husband, Tijjani Ali, who is innocent, will be released. It is terrible to wait in vain for so long. Many women do not know if their husbands and sons are even alive. I don’t know for certain that my husband is still alive.

“Most of those who were released originally came from the local government areas of Kaga, Konduga, Bama, Damboa, Dikwa and Ngala. Men from the metropolitan council are seldom released. They were arrested in many different parts of Maiduguri. For some reason they are still being detained. We don’t know what the rationale is. We don’t know why our men have not been released. They are innocent.”

Zuwaira Gambo, Borno State’s commissioner for women affairs, said: “All those who were released were handed over to the Borno State government. We have tried to assure the women whose relatives are still being detained in the Giwa Barracks that they will all be released as long as they are innocent.

“The Borno State government is working closely with the military to ensure justice and fairness to all suspects.”

Gambo praised the Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development which has been supporting the women whose husbands, sons and brothers are still in detention.

The foundation, established by Hamsatu Allamin, is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-governmental peace-building organisation.

It has been at the forefront guiding women survivors of the insurgency in trying to get their innocent relatives released.

Hamsatu said the organisation sought justice for the vulnerable and promoted peace and reconciliation in Borno State.

She lauded the army for providing periodical access to the foundation to visit those in detention at the Giwa Barracks.

She also urged the military to ensure that no innocent member of society suffered for a crime he or she did not commit.

Gambo said the foundation had provided a charter of demands from the women survivors and victims of the insurgency.

The government was addressing many of the demands under the “Borno Model”  – a community-based approach involving all stakeholders – following the mass surrender of insurgents and their families, she said.

Gambo called on the women to be patient, assuring them that their loved ones would be released if they were innocent.



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