The Joint Task (JTF) has released Hassana Yakubu, wife of the wanted leader of the Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau, sources close to the federal government’s Dialogue and Amnesty Committee told Daily Trust yesterday.
She was released last week alongside Malama Zara, wife of slain leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf, and seven other wives of top commanders of the Boko Haram sect who have been in detention for months.
Also released are three children of Shekau as well as 13 others who were arrested alongside their mothers in various locations in Yobe State, the source said.
The detainees were handed over to the Yobe State government which in turn handed them over to the Borno State government. They were later reconnected with their families in a brief ceremony which took place at the executive chambers of the deputy governor of Borno State, Zanna Umar Mustapha.
The women and children, who were brought to Maiduguri by Barrister Aliyu Shehu, the special adviser to the Yobe State governor and the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Asma ‘u Kolo, we’re received by Borno Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Kaka Shehu, and other top government functionaries on behalf of Governor Kashim Shettima.
Our correspondent gathered that Shekau’s wife and children were arrested by the JTF in a rented apartment in Damaturu about 10 months ago.
The house was thoroughly searched and sophisticated weapons recovered before the building was demolished after the family was taken into custody, the source said.
Zara was said to have corroborated this during her remarks before she was released to her family who were at the government house to receive her.
Daily Trust source said she attributed their travails to Allah and quoted verses of the Holy Quran that says ‘God has reason for everything’. She also confirmed that she and her children had been in custody for ten months but said they dedicated their time to prayers and supplications.
Barrister Kaka Shehu who spoke to our correspondent on the modalities that led to their release said the Yobe State government had earlier contacted government officials in Borno State indicating its readiness to release the detainees who were said to be indigenes of Borno State.
“On the appointed date, the special adviser to Yobe State governor brought the women and children as well as a covering letter which was signed by Yobe State Attorney-General, Barrister Ahmed Goniri. I and some of my fellow commissioners received them on behalf of our governor who was unavoidably absent,” the justice commissioner said.
Shehu said apart from identifying names, the letter did not give details about the ladies.
He said the women were told to reintegrate themselves into the society and also take part in the peace process initiated by the federal government with active support of the Borno and Yobe State governments.
The commissioner said the women were also immediately enrolled into the skill acquisition programme of the state government while the state Ministry of Women Affairs gave them five sets of wrappers and 10 yards of brocade for each of the children.
He said the sum of N100, 000 was also approved for each of them.
The commissioner said similar gesture was extended to the six women and 14 children that were detained in Borno State but released in the first phase of the amnesty programme.
It was not clear whether the remaining commanders whose wives were released are alive but our correspondent gathered that some of the women released had trouble in joining their families.
A top government source confirmed that in one of the neighbourhoods in Maiduguri, the family of one of the released women told her to leave because they were afraid that the operatives of the JTF will come and arrest them.
“One of the commissioners that were involved in the release of the women had to intervene and told the woman’s family not to entertain any fear,” the source said.
Meanwhile, top security source also told our correspondent that one of the children that were released during the first exercise was captured with a letter at the Sambisa forest.