Nigerian Court has given orders to release 475 Boko Haram suspects for lack of evidence against their involvement with the armed group. They have been held for years without any charge against them. All 475 will be sent to their respective home states for rehabilitation before being allowed to send to their families.
They were held on suspicion grounds that they were part of the group and had covered information about the activities of the group and its hideouts. The proceedings which were a part of the second mass trial involving more than 1600 people, took place in Kainji, central Niger. Some suspects were held since 2010 without any charge and trial.
Last week, Kainji court had convicted 20 Boko Haram members between 2-15 years of intensive imprisonment. 2 consecutive 15-year sentences were given to Haruna Yahaya who was behind the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014.
Nigeria has been widely criticised for holding people in prisons for years without trials without allowing any contact with the lawyers. Boko Haram rebellion which began in 2009 had claimed 20,000 lives and displaced nearly 2 million in northeast Nigeria. The group aimed at the creation of an Islamic State. President Mohammadu Buhari has stated that the Boko Haram era is gradually coming to a close although the attacks continue in north-eastern Nigeria.
Boko Haram was established by Mohammad Yusuf at Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria in 2002. It was also known as Jama’at Ahl al-Sunna li-da’wa wa-l-qital. The return of democracy in 1999 amplified the voices against corruption in politics and a more equal distribution of wealth. Thus, the Muslim population in the north which was in majority wanted Islamic law should be applied to banish all corrupt practices. It was this demand on which Boko Haram established itself. Mohd Yusuf was a good orator and a political preacher. His voice and ideas resonated with people of Borno where the poverty level was as high as 69 percent. The country is a leading economic power but a majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Politics was largely mired in corruption and thus the poor identified with Yusuf. Yusuf was soon arrested afterwards following heavy fighting and unrest. He was shot in custody. In custody, he revealed the name of his second hand Abubakar Shekau. Shekau is more fierce, has intense ideology and commitment to his cause. Boko Haram has become more violent under his leadership and has spread to other nations. In 2016, ISIS announced a new leader of the group Abu Musab al-Barnawi who was challenged by Shekau and since then Boko Haram split into two factions. Boko Haram has weakened technically as per the government but their ideology stays and can erupt anywhere to take any shape.