On Tuesday, 300 Boko Haram suspects were officially remanded in prison custody as hearings got underway in the first mass trials linked to the Islamist insurgency.
The media has been banned on security grounds from attending proceedings at four civilian courts set up in a military base in Kainji, in central Niger State. But the justice ministry said in a statement that three separate cases, each involving 100 defendants, were heard in three of the courts.
Ministry spokesman Salihu Othman Isah said the judges ordered all the defendants to be remanded in custody for 90 days, pending further investigations and preparation of charges. The hearings will resume on January 9, the judges ruled. One defendant, who is accused of attempting to bomb the main mosque in the northeastern city of Bauchi, was ordered to be transferred to face trial.
A total of 1,669 suspects 1,631 men, 11 women, 26 boys and one girl are being held at the Kainji facility, pending formal charges and trial. The government has said it then plans to prosecute 651 others held at the Giwa military barracks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.