The government said on Thursday that Banzana Yusuf, from the northern state of Kano State has been jailed for his part in the mass kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, more than four years ago.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “planning and kidnapping” the students, a statement said. No further details were given about his age, identity, the exact charges, the circumstances of his arrest or what was said in court.
The first conviction was in February, when Haruna Yahaya, 35, admitted involvement in the abduction and was given two 15-year jail sentences. oth Yahaya and Yusuf were among 1,669 Boko Haram suspects brought before four special civilian courts at a military barracks in Kainji, in Niger state.
A total of 276 girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven escaped in the immediate aftermath. Since then, 107 have either been found or released as part of a government deal with the jihadists. Nigeria has been criticized for arbitrarily arresting civilians in the remote northeast and holding them, often in unsanitary conditions, for years without access to lawyers.
Trials began last October but with the media and public banned from attending, prompting fresh criticism about due process. The media has had to rely on government statements, although it was briefly allowed to observe proceedings in February. The resumption of cases on Monday and Tuesday was not announced beforehand.
Yusuf was one of 113 people convicted and sentenced on charges including membership of a proscribed organisation, supporting Boko Haram and participating in acts of terrorism. Others sentenced included a Boko Haram leader and a commander’s wife, who was arrested with her two children as they headed to the group’s Sambisa Forest hideout. Some were released because of time already served. Others were handed sentences of up to 30 years with hard labour.
A total of 240 people have now been convicted in connection with the insurgency, according to government statements since October. The latest statement said 111 people were either acquitted or had their cases dropped because of lack of evidence. That takes to 1,054 the number of people who have been freed, which will likely strengthen the argument of critics who say they should not have been detained in the first place.