More than 100 individuals held at the Kirikiri Correctional Centers after being detained on suspicion of having ties to Boko Haram have been freed.
According to information obtained by SaharaReporters, the majority of the suspects who have been freed were detained on suspicion of being Boko Haram members in the states of Borno, Bauchi, and Kano in late 2009 when the police and other security agencies conducted raids that resulted in the detention of numerous terrorist organization members.
“Over 100 Boko Haram suspects held at Krikiri prison were released last Friday. On Wednesday, the suspects started selling their properties in prison in preparatory for their release.
“The Assistant Controller-General came to Kirikiri on Thursday and announced their release. A big vehicle was brought on Friday and they were transported to the airport,” a source told SaharaReporters.
Another source however said the prisoners were freed as part of a swap deal with terrorists for the release of the 23 remaining abducted passengers of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack.
On March 28, a train on its way from Abuja was attacked by bandits in Kaduna State.
Several persons were killed while many were abducted during the attack.
Last Wednesday, the remaining captives were released by the gunmen.
“It was actually a prisoner swap demanded by Boko Haram, in exchange for the remaining 23 Kaduna train passengers kidnapped by the sect on the 28th of March 2022,” the source said.
The Legal Aid Council had recently kicked against the continued detention of some of the suspects.
“Some of the suspects were arrested in their homes, business premises, mosques, or travelling on the highways during raids carried out by the police,” Daily Trust had quoted an official of the council as saying.
“From our investigation, more than 160 persons were arrested, but we now have 101 still in detention. They were initially 104, but three died in detention while six others have mental problems due to trauma.”
He said the detainees were initially arraigned before courts in Kano, Maiduguri and Bauchi. He said the courts granted them bail but some of them could not meet their bail conditions; hence they are still in detention.
“They were separately detained in correctional centres in Kano, Maiduguri and Bauchi pending the time they would meet their bail conditions. However, in March 2011 they were all herded into a truck and moved to Lagos.
“We have 74 being detained in the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre while 27 are detained in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre,” he added.
He said that after their movement to Lagos, there was an order that they should not be allowed access to their relatives. He added that many of them had lost contact with their relatives.
He said the detainees were charged with offences which mostly carried a maximum of four years imprisonment.
“What it means is that they would have even served their terms by now if they had been convicted,” he had claimed.
“They could not also be detained under the terrorism act as the law was passed after their arrest, and it does not have a retrospective effect.
“These people should be released or brought back to the respective places of their arrest and be prosecuted. This is a clear case of human rights abuse, which should be addressed immediately in the interest of justice.”
It was also learnt the Director-General of the Council wrote the Attorney-General of the Federation for his intervention.
In the letter, the DG stated that there was no further reason to keep the suspects in detention since the authorities had lost interest in the case.
He also noted that the detainees had undergone a de-radicalisation programme organised by the government while inside the correctional centre.
When contacted, Abubakar Danlami Umar, National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Nigeria Prison Service told SaharaReporters that he wasn’t aware of the release of the terror suspects.