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Ahmad Salkida @A_Salkida
, 19 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
There is a silent emergency on a long standing human rights violations and abuse in Northeast #Nigeria, where, even security officials estimated the number of those detained or executed for the crime of guilt by association to over THREE THOUSAND in the past 8 to 9 years.
Hundreds of young men and some women were picked up after a suspected terrorist calls them even once. It doesn't matter what the call is all about or who the caller is to the recipient. The implication can be dreadful to those involved and their families.
Idris Ali was arrested by the DSS in 2013 and remained in custody till date. His 'crime,' a childhood friend of his, got his number and placed a call to him, and because the caller was being trailed by officials, Ali and brother were arrested remained in custody since then.
Mohd Ali was arrested because when security officials came to arrest his brother, Idris, he was not having any ID on him and was asked to join, both brothers remained in detention since 2013. "This is one example out of thousands," according to official sources in Abuja.
The case of the Ali's is not exclusive, so many others are being detained or killed by soldiers when a friend, acquaintance, in-law or relative contacts them. For many in the Northeast or Borno in particular, it is rare not to know someone who is not involved with #BokoHaram.
In my case, I am from Biu, in Borno and grew up between Biu and Maiduguri. I have gone to school, played football, even mimic a 'boys to men' song - End of the road, with a someone who later joined #BokoHaram. Another became a lawyer, myself, a reporter, one died early in life.
Many #BokoHaram suspects were either arrested or killed in the last nine years with my call records on their phones, but security agents have told me several times that I was spared because the calls were not unconnected to my extensive reporting of the crisis.
Young men like Ali and his brother that were arrested and denied bail as ordered by the courts, aren't so lucky. They joined thousands whose only 'crime' was, they picked a call or made a call to a suspect. It doesn't matter if you are aware the said person is a suspect or not.
Guilty by association refers to the attribution of guilt without any proof on individuals solely for the cause that those whom they associate with are guilty. Having close or distant family members that are members of #BokoHaram or #ISWAP have sent many to their early graves.
Those that are spared live with a stigma for the rest of their lives because almost everyone thought they are part of the problem. So far, I have known two families that were killed in reprisal attacks because their family members were active members of #BokoHaram in Borno.
One other family I know relocated from Borno to Abuja because of harassments and stigmatization. Many have to always recoil in shame because of this. The stigma of being associated with #BokoHaram or terrorism is worse than the stigma of #HIVAIDS in this part of the world.
Having sources too, that gives you scoops and exclusives for reporting also leads to official and unofficial harassments. In 2012, I was close to a scene of an attack as a reporter. I was lucky to have escaped two angry men that recognized me and wanted to call a mob to lynch me.
The #Bokoharam crisis, as it is widely called, has brought a range of seen and unseen ramifications of victims, from girls that were forcefully 'married' with or without babies for their abductors, to parents whose kids are involved, all have to suffer in silence with no help.
Recently, at the Al-Nur mosque in Abj with my sons to observe Friday prayers, an educated yet ignorant man called out my last name aloud, people turned and he said, what are you doing here, I thought you were in custody? I simply said, I was given a break to pray and walked away.
Ignorance by many is responsible for these harassments and stigma of people whose only crime is guilty by association, and it doesn't matter if such associatn is professional as it is in my own case. The Govt is also making matters worse by the arbitrary arrest and detentions.
I hope the Govt will release or immediately charge thousands of young people to court and also respect the court orders. Many are indeed suffering with little or no evidence against them and their loved ones are too poor and afraid to speak for them or fight for their freedom.
I have heard stories from families that said, their relatives were arrested while at work or around a suspect that they are not even connected to. One was a bricklayer and when the soldiers came, everyone on site was arrested, the family have not heard of him in six months.
For many of us, we have been through these horrors without any help. I have lived through one depression after another without help to the extent that I have become immune... Still, society expects you to function in the way they want. I know many in worse situations today.
My thoughts and prayers go to 1000's of unheard and unattended victims of #BokoHaram crisis. We may not get the help and the justice we deserve in this life, but we must learn to survive and stay strong before diligent and caring leaders that will have our backs are elected.
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