Boko Haram paid us N5,000 each to burn schools - Kid suspects

By The Rainbow

Some kid suspects released by military authorities in Maiduguri on Friday said the Boko Haram sect paid them N5,000 each to burn primary schools and spy on soldiers.

They were among thoseĀ  granted reprieve by the Federal Government , as part of the first batch of freed detainees under the government's amnesty deal, which included 23 women and 35 children.

They were released to the governors of Borno and Yobe states by the Commander, 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, Brig-Gen. R.O Bamigboye, on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sa'ad Ibrahim.

The children, whose ages range between nine and 15 years, said they were given kegs of petrol by Boko Haram leaders and sent to burn schools in both states.

Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, government officials and journalists listened in bewilderment as the children narrated how they were used by the extremist sect to burn schools and spy on soldiers.

One of them said they were taken to the Yobe State capital, Damaturu, and told to spy on soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force and report back to the Boko Haram commanders.

He said, 'We were taken to Damaturu. We watched out for the soldiers at their unit and reported back to them. We were reporting either when soldiers were at ease or enjoying themselves and when they were off guard and we were paid for doing that.'

Another child suspect said, 'I usually helped Boko Haram to leak information on military activities so that they could attack them (soldiers). My last job was to travel from Maiduguri to Gashua to spy on soldiers before I was caught.'

Yet another said, 'We usually help Boko Haram to carry stolen items each time and sometimes help them to give information about people they want to attack and sometimes even help to hide their guns after attacks. They pay us N5000 after every operation. I regret what I did, I want to go home and ask for forgiveness from my father and mother for what I did; I also want to go to school.'

One of the boys said he was arrested last year after he was overheard talking about the people who burnt a school in Maiduguri and failed to inform the military.

'I was arrested because I know those who burnt the school without telling the soldiers. Some people heard me discussing about the people who burnt the school and reported me to the soldiers who arrested me,' he said.

One of the teenagers said they were paid N5,000 and provided with fuel in kegs to set schools ablaze in Maiduguri.

One of the children also revealed that he was usually sent to steal clothes from houses for use by insurgents.

'They, however, said after they were arrested and interrogated by the men of the JTF, they volunteered information that led to the arrest or killing in gun battle of their pay masters.

'The three boys also said they were in Almajiri schools. They, however, said they were willing to be enrolled into formal education to be combined with Islamic education, with a pledge to be of good behaviour.

The Commander, 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, Brig. Gen. Bamigboye, who did the handing over, said he was acting on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Saad Ibrahim, following President Goodluck Jonathan's directive to the army.

He explained that the detainees were arrested in connection with their roles in the insurgency.

The Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Isa Gusau, confirmed the release of the 58 detainees last night.

Gusau said: 'Governor Shettima presented fabrics to the pardoned detainees to assist them. He noted that with the President's offer, they were like every innocent Nigerian so long as they remained of good behaviour.

He quoted the governor as saying: 'We most sincerely thank Mr. President for his magnanimity for releasing our sisters and children. This marks a milestone in our quest for peace through a dialogue and to restore normalcy.

'We will do our part by ensuring that they are integrated into the larger society after rehabilitation to become better citizens.

'The Federal Government has shown commitment by releasing these women and children under detention. We would admit the women into our vocational training centres for rehabilitation.

'As for the children, we are going to hand them over to the Ministry of Women Affairs and social welfare. We will advertise for their parents to come and claim them after they might have signed a written undertaking to inculcate good behaviour and to enroll them in schools.'

Gusau added: 'The governor also said for each released child that is enrolled in school, their parents would get N10, 000 for 30 days of uninterrupted stay in school

. 'He said it is a foreign model that he is borrowing as a campaign to boost education. The governor also urged the women to turn a new leaf and not walk back to the wrong alley. He commended the security agents for keeping the detainees hale and hearty.

'He assured that the state government wiould do everything to rehabilitate them to be better citizens, promising that the women wiould be trained at the various vocational training centres in the state to acquire skills, while the children would be sent to schools.'

The release of the suspects was done in line with the Federal Government's amnesty deal.

In Borno State, 20 detainees, comprising six women and 14 children arrested between 2012 and 2013 were set free and handed over to Shettima for rehabilitation and reintegration.

The 20 detainees were mostly arrested in Maiduguri, Bama in Borno and Damaturu in Yobe State.

Bamigboye, who supervised the handing over, said he was acting on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sa'ad Ibrahim.

This, he said, was in line with the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan to the army.

He explained that the detainees were arrested in connection with the roles they played in the insurgency.

The six freed women were Hajia Zainab Mohammed, 40; Hajia Karagama Mohammed, 55; Hajia Zari Mohammed, 40; Aishatu Mohammed Aji, 62; Hadiza Ahmad, 40; and Yakaka Goni Habib, 16.

The 14 children released were Abba Modu Aji,10; Mohammed Musa, 12; Ibrahim Mohammed, 15; Umar Bukar, 15; Mustapha Umaru, 14; Bashir Ali, 12; Musa Grema, 13; Abba Mohammed, 14; Baba Alhaji, 13; AbdulAziz Umar, 14; Ari Masa'a, 14; Bayi Mustapha, 14; Mohammed Ibrahim, 14 and Alhaji Goni, 14.