182 Boko Haram suspects freed on Nigerian Army Day Army Day usually held in Nigerian capital, but this year it was held in Maiduguri, capital of Boko Haram-stricken Borno state

Boko Haram members

Boko Haram members

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – 182 Boko Haram suspects were freed Monday as part of activities commemorating Nigerian Army Day, an army spokesman said.

“These 182 suspects comprised 100 men, 24 women, 40 boys and 18 children,” army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman told Anadolu Agency.

The suspects were arrested across Borno State and released after being cleared by investigations that found they had no links to the militants, he added.

This is not the first time large swathes of Boko Haram suspects have been released.

The Nigerian army previously freed 125 Boko Haram suspects in November 2014, having also cleared them of involvement in terrorist activities.

Nigerian Army Day takes place on July 6 every year and is attended by the country’s top military brass, political leaders and traditional chiefs.

Celebrations are usually held in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, but this year it was decided to hold the event in Maiduguri, capital of the Boko Haram-stricken Borno state, northeast Nigeria.

“It is important… that we have decided to bring it to Borno state, and Maiduguri in particular, to show solidarity not only with our troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists but also to the people of Borno state and the entire northeast,” the army spokesman said.

He also said it was a message to the world that the Nigerian army was more willing than ever before to bring the terrorist insurgency to an end.

Other highlights of the day included an army delegation visiting Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno, who Sani said spoke “eloquently about the Nigerian army,” as well as visiting the Shehu of Borno, a key Muslim leader and traditional chief of the restive state.

A delegation of local and military dignitaries also visited the town’s military cemetery where they prayed for soldiers who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism.

Soldiers wounded in battle against Boko Haram were awarded Operation Zaman Lafiya Medals.

As part of the day’s celebrations, Army Chief of Staff Kenneth Minimah formally took charge of the military command and control center in Maiduguri.

At his inauguration on May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a retired army general, ordered the military command center relocated to Maiduguri, the birthplace of the insurgency.

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