Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
A protest has been staged to demand the release of some persons allegedly arrested by the Joint Task Force, JTF, as suspected members of the deadly group, Boko Haram.
The protesters, comprising women and children numbering about 100, stormed the premises of the Borno Radio Television, BRTV, to demand the immediate release of their husbands, fathers and children from detention, whose arrests they described as unlawful.
Alternatively, they requested for a statement from the military informing them of the death of their loved ones so that they can mourn them in peace.
The protesters said that life without their loved ones was bleak and difficult, alleging that some their husbands, sons and fathers had been kept in detention in various barracks for different periods ranging from eight months to over one year without trial.
They also alleged that the army had barred them from even setting eyes on their detained husbands, fathers and sons, leaving them to wonder how their loved ones were faring if they were still alive.
One of the women, Ya’hadiza Bulama Musa, who spoke to journalists said: “Our children are not Boko Haram, they were arrested innocently and wrongly by the JTF who labelled them Boko Haram. I am a mother and should know my children better. If they are Boko Haram I will not be here wasting my time. But I know my children they are educated just like their fathers and I”.
She said two of her graduate sons were arrested sometime in June and she was yet to set eyes on them.
Musa continued: “I have written several letters to the then JTF and even the present 7 Division in September and October but they never listened to me or responded to me. The last time I was there the commander chased me away that they don’t want to see anyone again. I became afraid and could not go back there again. If they are dead let them tell me so that I can mourn them in peace.”
Her story was similar to that of Halima Isa who said her 30-year-old son, a furniture maker at Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri was arrested by security personnel who invaded his home, leaving his pregnant wife helpless.
“We are not Boko Haram; we are Fulanis from Adamawa, and God knows we don’t know any Boko Haram. Please government should help us to see our children again,” she said.
Bashir Zarami, a 14-year-old boy has been separated from his father, the only parent he knows and is struggling to fend for himself by managing his father’s provision shop and can no longer go to school.
He breaks down in tears as he narrates how his father was arrested.
“My father is a provision seller there at Bayan Quarters area. I was with him on the day soldiers came to our shop some eight months ago and began to beat us, asking us to lay down with our faces to the ground…They dragged my father out and took him away. Since then I was left alone, I don’t know my mother, my father brought me up alone,” he said in tears.
He pleaded with the state governor, Kashim Shettima, to assist him see his father again.
The army had said it would free all arrested persons found clean after carrying out its investigations and charge to court those who had a case to answer.
However, it has been months since that assurance was given but no visible action has been taken.