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Nigeria: Mass prisoner release from unlawful military detention is testament to campaign power of ‘Knifar Women’

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Reacting to the release of hundreds of the husbands of the ‘Knifar Women’ – a movement of more than 2,000 displaced Nigerian women who campaign for the release of their husbands from unlawful military detention – Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said:

“We welcome the release of the 600 men, including husbands of Knifar Women, from unlawful detention at Giwa Barracks and Maiduguri Maximum Prison. However, at least 600 more who have never stood trial are still illegally detained, a situation which puts their lives in danger and their families through endless anguish. Prolonged unlawful detention in notoriously grim military facilities is a gross human rights violation.

“Some of those released told Amnesty International that they were unlawfully detained for more than six years and during that time were never told why they were detained, or what they were accused of. Many were denied access to a lawyer or contact and visits from family.

“Of the thousands that have disappeared since the start of Boko Haram conflict, far too many were victims of the military’s unlawful detention program. Nigerian authorities must immediately release those still in military detention, as well as investigate and prosecute those responsible for crimes perpetrated by the military. Those released must be given justice and reparations – including psychosocial care – for the years they have spent locked away in military facilities.

Amnesty International also pays tribute to the courage of Knifar Women who continue to courageously speak out – often at great personal risk – in the face of injustice.”


On 12 November 2021 Nigerian military started releasing 600 men who had been held for up to six years in military detention allegedly on suspicion of supporting Boko Haram. Amnesty International supported the work of the Knifar Women’s movement – a group of more than 2,000 Nigerian displaced women who campaign for the release of their husbands from unlawful military detention: Nigeria: Life and Death in Giwa Barracks