- BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
Wives and mothers of the men detained over complicity in Boko Haram, on Thursday asked the federal government to tell them the whereabouts of their men.
“We need to know what happened, even if our sons are dead. It is time that President Buhari’s government acknowledges that thousands of young men were arrested and died in military custody. They must release the list with all their names and give us mothers the closure we are begging for,” they demanded.
The women numbering over 100, speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, in an occasion commemorating the five years Boko Haram attack on Giwa Barrack, during which many detained suspected insurgents were killed, said they were still at a lost over the fate of their men, whether they have been killed or if they still remain in detention.
The women, who organized themselves under a non-governmental agency, Jire Dole (Justice is a Must), lamented that nothing has been heard from their men who were in detention at Giwa barrack before the attack by Boko Haram, which saw, many killed and several others freed.
Leading the women, Hajjia Hamsatu Allamin, the Executive Director of Jire Dole, said: “Government needs to tell us about the whereabouts of our sons.
“Thousands of young men and boys have been arrested by the military in Maiduguri and surrounding towns in Borno state since 2011, allegedly for being members of Boko Haram.
“Their mothers now demand answers from the Nigerian authorities and call on President Muhammad Buhari to order the military to release accurate information about all men and boys they have arrested.
“Almost all of those arrested were taken to the Giwa Barracks military detention facility in Maiduguri. No one currently knows their whereabouts.
“Some have been in detention since 2011 with no access to their families, lawyers or the outside world. Many have gone ‘missing’ or feared dead since they were arrested by the military at the height of the fight against Boko Haram.
“Through the Jire Dole network, the mothers of some of these young men and boys are continuing to demand for information and justice. Many of the mothers have waited for years to hear what happened to their sons, none of whom were ever taken to court.”
One of the women, Hajjia Gana said: “Ever since my son was arrested in October 2011, I have been looking for him. I went to Giwa Barracks and saw him a week after his arrest. I filed a case in court, but nothing ever happened. I have never seen him again.”
She said: “We need to know what happened, even if our sons are dead. It is time that President Buhari’s government acknowledges that thousands of young men were arrested and died in military custody. They must release the list with all their names and give us mothers the closure we are begging for.”
Hajja Gana is among hundreds of women who came together in 2016, to form a network of survivors and relatives determined to campaign for truth, justice and reparation.
The network has been growing bigger and louder. Almost eight years after her son was snatched away from her by the military, she remains hopeful for information and justice.
She said: “We know that President Buhari can do the right thing and give us justice. That is why we are today asking him to assist us.”