nigeria

Boko Haram attacks girls school in northeast Nigeria

Nigeria convicts 205 Boko Haram suspects in mass trials

Agencies
13:37 February 20, 2018

Kano, Nigeria: Boko Haram militants launched an attack on a girls boarding school in northeast Nigeria but the students and teachers fled to safety, witnesses said on Monday.

A convoy of fighters in pickup trucks descended on Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state around 6pm (1700 GMT) targeting the school, resident Sheriff Aisami told AFP.

“When they stormed the village they began shooting and setting off explosives,” Aisami said.

“This drew the attention of the girls in the Girls Science Secondary School, so the girls and the teachers were able to escape before the attackers got into the school.”

Unable to kidnap the girls, the Boko Haram fighters looted the school before fleeing.

“There was an attack on the girls secondary school in Dapchi by Boko Haram,” said a member of a local civilian militia battling the extremists.

“Obviously the attack was meant to abduct school girls but luckily they found none of the girls as they were taken away by teachers before they arrived,” said the militia member, who declined to provide his name for safety reasons.

“Military jets were deployed and are in pursuit”, he added.

It’s unclear whether anyone was killed in the violence.

The attack recalls Boko Haram’s audacious kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April, 2014.

The kidnapping drew the world’s attention to the militant insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

More than 200 people have been convicted in Nigeria on charges related to their involvement with the group, the justice ministry said on Monday.

The convictions of 205 people in mass trials mark the conclusion of the second stage of the country’s biggest legal challenge to Boko Haram.

“Most of them were convicted for professing to belong to the terrorist group, [or] concealing information about the group which they knew or believe to be of material assistance that could lead to the arrest, prosecution or conviction of Boko Haram members,” the justice ministry said in a statement.

Jail terms ranged from three to 60 years, said the ministry.

It also said a total of 526 people allegedly affiliated with Boko Haram had been released for rehabilitation during the second stage, and said 73 cases had been adjourned.

More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes since the insurgency began.

Humanitarian groups have criticised the Nigerian authorities’ handling of some of those detained for infringing on the suspects’ rights.

Some whose cases were heard last week at a detention centre in central Nigeria had been held without trial since 2010, according to the justice ministry, which added that some had been released for lack of evidence against them.

In October, the ministry said 45 people suspected of Boko Haram links had been convicted and jailed. A further 468 suspects were discharged and 28 suspects were remanded for trial in Abuja or Minna.