At least 20 people have been jailed in Nigeria for being members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The accused were sentenced to jail terms of between three and 15 years as part of the ongoing mass trials of more than 1,000 suspects at a military facility in the north-central town of Kainji.
Among the convicted was a disabled man found guilty of participating in the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok in 2014.
He has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, the first time someone has been jailed in connection with the Chibok abductions.
Sources at the courts told the BBC that a further 700 suspects are due to stand trial this week.
The Nigerian authorities say there are more than 6,000 Boko Haram suspects being detained across the country.
In October, 45 people were sentenced to between three and 31 years in prison for being members of the militant group.
Father Of Ivory Coast Boy Smuggled In A Suitcase Walks Free
The father of a boy who was hidden inside a suitcase in an attempt to smuggle him into Europe has been allowed to walk free from court.
Adou was just eight years old when a shocked border official spotted his figure – crushed into the fetal position – on an X-ray at the border of Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in May 2015.
His father Ali Ouattara, 45, was waiting on the other side, having been promised by the smugglers that his son was being brought from his home in the Ivory Coast to Europe by car.
Attempts to have their son join them in Spain legally failed, Mr Ouattara explained, and after Adou’s grandmother died, leaving him with just his 18-year-old brother, the family had resorted to paying a criminal gang 5,000 euros ($6,200; £4,400).
But after Adou was found inside the suitcase, the one-time French and philosophy teacher faced charges of facilitating his son’s illegal entry into Europe and threatening the child’s life.
Prosecutors were hoping for a three-year jail sentence, and the cruelty – and danger – of making the crossing this way was not lost on judge Fernando Teson.
“The child’s life was endangered, he was inhumanly curled up in a tiny suitcase, without ventilation,” he told the court in Ceuta, according to news agency AFP.
However, it was 10-year-old Adou’s testimony which saved his father from a long sentence.
The little boy said a “Moroccan girl” forced him into the suitcase, which made it difficult for him to breathe.
But Adou said Mr Ouattara – who has spent a month in prison – had always told him the journey would be made “by car” – and the court could find no evidence the family had known any different.
Mr Ouattara was ordered to pay a 92 euro ($114) fine, but could walk free.
“It’s all over and we can begin to resume out lives, together, my wife, my daughter my son and I,” he said, revealing the family would start a new life in northern Spain.
Nigeria Boko Haram: Schoolgirls Escape Militant Attack
Schoolgirls and teachers in north-eastern Nigeria have escaped an attack on a boarding school by Boko Haram jihadists, witnesses say.
They say the militants in pick-up trucks arrived in the town of Dapchi, Yobe state, on Monday evening, shooting and setting off explosives.
Alerted by the noise, staff and students were able to flee.
In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls from a school in the north-eastern town of Chibok.
Residents and civilian militia in Dapchi say they believe the jihadists had planned to kidnap schoolgirls in their town too.
After finding the school empty, the militants looted the building.
They say that Nigeria’s security forces – backed by military jets – later repelled the attack.
Last September, a group of more than 100 of the Chibok girls were reunited with their families at a party in the capital Abuja.
Most of the group were released in May as part of a controversial prisoner swap deal with the Nigerian government that saw five Boko Haram commanders released.
But more than 100 schoolgirls are still being held by Boko Haram, and their whereabouts are unknown.
Boko Haram militants have been fighting a long insurgency in their quest for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. The conflict is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people.
The Chibok girls represent a fraction of the women captured by the militant group, which has kidnapped thousands during its eight-year insurgency in northern Nigeria.
BBC Starts Igbo And Yoruba Services In Nigeria
Two new language services have been launched by the BBC World Service for Igbo and Yoruba speakers in Nigeria and West and Central Africa.
Their digital content is mainly aimed at audiences who use mobile phones.
Igbo is primarily spoken in south-east Nigeria and Yoruba in the south-west, as well as in Benin and Togo.
The new services are part of the World Service’s biggest expansion since the 1940s, following a government-funding boost announced in 2016.
In total, 12 services are being launched by the BBC in Africa and Asia.
Igbo – seven things
- Best-known Igbo speaker was Chinua Achebe, regarded as the founding father of African literature
- Estimated to have more than 30 million speakers, mainly in south-eastern Nigeria
- A word with the same spelling can have different meanings, for example “akwa” is bed, egg, cloth or burial rights – depending on its tone
- An Igbo secessionist movement sparked a brutal civil war in 1967
- The caffeine-rich kola nut is all important in Igbo culture – always offered to welcome guests
- A famous proverb: “Onye wetara ọjị, wetara ndụ” meaning: “He who brings kola, brings life”
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