The Nigerian military has released a new group of hundreds of men arbitrarily detained over the past decade.
The group of men, at least 400 strong, is believed to include many of the husbands of the Knifar Women, a campaign group for wives trying to track down husbands who were arrested by the military.
They were transported to a camp in Gombe. From there, they were bussed to Maiduguri, and then the majority were taken to Bama. They were then released, expected to make their own way to their homes, HumAngle understands.
None of the men have been put on trial or had access to a lawyer. They mostly fled their communities in places like Bama, Andara, Boboshe, and other communities in Borno state, Northeast Nigeria, when the Boko Haram insurgency first erupted.
As towns continued to fall to terrorists, residents left their homes heading for Maiduguri. The fleeing men were then picked up by the Nigerian Army, profiled as terrorists and imprisoned.
HumAngle has spoken to dozens of men released previously who insist there was never any evidence levelled against them. While in detention, they were completely cut off from their families, who only relied on faith that they were alive.
Their wives and mothers, who were separated from them at the point of arrest, went on to form the Knifar Movement, through which they advocated for the release of their male relatives.
In this recent batch of releases there is a man, HumAngle understands has been in detention for 13 years. His wife is one of the Knifar women, she has remarried under the impression that her husband had died.
There have been cases where the women died before they received news of their husbands.
The first leader of the movement, Kellu Haruna, campaigned for the release of her husband and thousands of others, insisting that they were not terrorists until she died from a stroke after discovering her husband was still alive. After years of hearing no news of him, Kellu finally received a video of him in detention. She collapsed, went into shock and died a day later.
HumAngle previously reported on Zara, another woman whose husband had been in detention for so long that when she heard from multiple sources that he had died, she had no choice but to believe it, mourn him, and remarry. Years later, however, her husband returned, and she was caught in the unpleasant situation of divorcing one man for the other.
Since the group’s formation and HumAngle’s coverage of their activities and the detention of these displaced men, several batches of them have been released, numbering over a thousand at the latest count.
In some cases, the military admitted that they were, in fact, not terrorists but did nothing to compensate them for the years lost.
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