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Reports on release of Boko Haram fighters in Borno false — Army

By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has refuted media reports which says, the Army released over 1009 repented Boko Haram fighters to the Borno State government.

The rebuttal was made in a statement released by Brigadier General onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations

He said though the ongoing counter terrorism operations in the Northeast has led to the arrest of several terror suspects.

Onyema said these suspects have been held in the custody while thorough profiling is done so that those who are found culpable are handed over to the prosecuting agencies while those who are not implicated in terrorism are cleared and subsequently released to the state government for rehabilitation before they are reintegrated into the society

He further noted that the total of 1009 cleared suspects were not former Boko Haram fighters. According to him, they were released after rigorous process on Wednesday 14 July 2021 which was done in collaboration with United Nations Humanitarian and government agencies, which is in line with global best practice.

However, Nwachukwu urged the general public to disregard the report as there is no truth in it.

The statement read, “The Nigerian Army (NA) has been notified of a media publication alleging that the NA has handed over 1009 Ex-Boko Haram fighters to Borno State government.

“The report also alleged that the event was shrouded in secrecy. This report, is obviously one of those attempts to dampen troops’ morale and denegrate the NA, riding on the back of unsubstantiated report and misinformation.

“While the NA would not want to join issues with the masterminds of this false narrative, it is important to set the records straight.

“It is an indisputable fact that the ongoing Counter Terrorism Counter Insurgency Operations (CTCOIN) in the North East has led to the arrest of several terrorism/insurgency suspects. These suspects have been held in custody, while undergoing profiling and further investigations by experts from the Joint Investigation Centre (JIC) and those who are found culpable are usually handed over to prosecuting agencies accordingly, while those who are not implicated in terrorism and insurgency are cleared and released to the state government for rehabilitation before they are reintegrated into the society.

“These cleared suspects are therefore not ex Boko Haram fighters, as peddled in the said online report and as the masterminds would want to impress on the public. A total of 1009 cleared suspects, not ex fighters, were therefore released after this rigorous process on Wednesday 14 July 2021.

“It is also necessary to categorically state that the handing over of the cleared suspects was not shrouded in secrecy as it was witnessed by United Nations Humanitarian and government agencies, in tandem with global best practice.

“The NA therefore urges the general public to discountenance this misinformation, as it is evidently a manipulation and distortion of the truth and reality of the event

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