Military authorities in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state on Saturday released 125 people who were suspected of having links with the militant movement Boko Haram and being involved in a recent violent insurgency in the state.
The release of the 125 suspects comes only three days after the authorities had handed over 42 other suspects to the regional government in the area.
Colonel Sani Usman, the spokesman of the Nigerian army’s 7th Division in Borno, said the 125 suspects were thoroughly investigated and cleared by the military.
He added that the military had found out that the suspects had no link with Boko Haram, which is outlawed by Nigerian authorities, or its activities.
“They [the 125 suspects] were among the 254 suspects arrested on September 23 this year in various operations in southern Borno state against the background of the insurgency and terrorists activities,” he said.
Usman, the deputy director of army public relations, added that the suspects had nothing to do with terrorist activities or the Boko Haram insurgency in the state.
He added that the suspects were handed over to Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, on Saturday.
Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been rounded up and locked in various military facilities across Nigeria on suspicions that they were involved in the Boko Haram crisis.
Several civil rights lawyers, including Boko Haram negotiator Shehu Sani, have filed lawsuits to legally challenge the detentions, insisting that they violated the rights of the detainees, especially given the fact that none of them had been officially charged at court.
Nigeria’s constitution limits detention without charges to 24 hours.
The military is, however, given extra powers in areas under emergency rule, such as Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
It is not clear whether the suspects who have been released so far will seek compensation in court. Some of these suspects had been detained for months.
Many court rulings have established that neither police nor any security agency has the power to detain suspects beyond 24 hours without court permission.