There is tension in Maiduguri over the detention of about 772 suspected Boko Haram terrorists, their wives and children in the Maiduguri Maximum Security Prison . This is in addition to others, who are confined in a yet to be ascertained centre for de-radicalisation, as well as several other women said to be wives of Boko Haram insurgents, all in Maiduguri.
Information on the presence of insurgents in the prison was first made public last Monday, when Justice Alkali Gana Wakkil led other stakeholders on a visit to the only functional prison in the state. He was told by the officer in charge of the prison that there were 772 repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
The Deputy Comptroller of Prisons (DCP), Lumson Apollos Kaye, told the judge that there were a total of 1,288 prisoners awaiting trial, as well as 772 suspected Boko Haram insurgents, who were taken to the prison by the military for rehabilitation, following their claim that they had repented. It was also learnt that the suspected terrorists were there with their wives and children.
Although Kaye conducted the judge round the prison, he did not, however, show him where the suspected male insurgents were kept. But at the female wing of the prison, some well fed women numbering about 10, along with well dressed children said to be family members of the detained insurgents, were seen in one of the rooms looking very relaxed. He referred to the wives of the Boko Haram suspects as “our special guests.’’
The prison boss also told the judge that there were eight internally displaced persons (IDPs) on awaiting trial list, over different allegations. One of them was said to have been arrested over the allegation that he was buying soup and meat for his fellow displaced persons, raising questions on where he got the money from.
DCP Kaye said he was running the prison without any financial support from the government, adding that the state High Court assists him to fuel his three official vehicles. He also said he sourced for money among his officers to buy soap and detergents for prison inmates.
“My lord, when the soldiers brought these repentant Boko Haram insurgents to us, they smelled badly. In fact, everywhere in this compound smelled. We had to tax ourselves and bought detergents for them to wash up. Government is not giving me anything to run this place,” he told the judge.
A military source who did not want to be mentioned because he has no right to talk to the press, said that the suspected insurgents were not in prison for rehabilitation. According to him, government may be preparing to prosecute them.
“There is no form of rehabilitation that will take place in the prison, especially since you said they were not allowed to mix up with other inmates. You should also know that nobody can be kept in prison custody without a warrant. They are kept on holding charge pending when they would be properly arraigned.
“Yes, it is true that there are more children than women, and the women are detained along with their children. You know very well that we cannot separate the children from their mothers. The children have not committed any offence. They are only accompanying their parents,” the source said.