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Nigeria Releases 180 Boko Haram Suspects


Men who were being detained on suspicion of affiliation to Boko Haram, line up as they are released by the Nigerian military in Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 6, 2015

Men who were being detained on suspicion of affiliation to Boko Haram, line up as they are released by the Nigerian military in Maiduguri, Nigeria, July 6, 2015

Nigerian authorities have released 180 people who were arrested for alleged links to Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

The release of the captives comes a month after a report by Amnesty International alleging severe detainee abuse by the Nigerian military.

Some of the 180 men, women and children who were released Monday by the military in the Borno State capital of Maiduguri told VOA they suffered no ill treatment during their detention.

Usman Lawan, a farmer from the town of Konduga, said he was arrested on suspicion of belonging to the sect and held for two months. He said he wants to go home. “If there is way, I will go back there again. If there is no way, I will seek for government provide care again,” he said.

The move was welcomed by Amnesty International, whose report documented torture and extrajudicial murders by the military at detention centers in the northeast. The military called the report blackmail, but Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised to investigate its claims.

Amnesty Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay, said those released need to be properly compensated. “Our research suggests that there were deplorable detention conditions and these have been victims of that detention. And so there is a critical need for the government to ensure that there is adequate compensation and reparations program initiated with immediate effect to support these victims,” stated Belay.

Borno State governor Kashim Shettima said the state would allow the former detainees to go back to school and give them training so they can find work.

Kareem Haruna in Maiduguri, Nigeria contributed to this report.

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