ABUJA (Reuters) - More than 200 people have been convicted in Nigeria on charges related to their involvement with militant Islamist group Boko Haram, the justice ministry said on Monday.
The convictions of 205 people in mass trials mark the conclusion of the second stage of the country’s biggest legal challenge to Boko Haram, which began an insurgency in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria.
“Most of them were convicted for professing to belong to the terrorist group, (or) concealing information about the group which they knew or believe to be of material assistance that could lead to the arrest, prosecution or conviction of Boko Haram members,” the justice ministry said in a statement.
Jail terms ranged from three to 60 years, said the ministry.
It also said a total of 526 people allegedly affiliated with Boko Haram had been released for rehabilitation during the second stage, and said 73 cases had been adjourned.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes since the insurgency began.
Humanitarian groups have criticized the Nigerian authorities’ handling of some of those detained for infringing on the suspects’ rights.
Some whose cases were heard last week at a detention center in central Nigeria had been held without trial since 2010, according to the justice ministry, which added that some had been released for lack of evidence against them.
In October, the ministry said 45 people suspected of Boko Haram links had been convicted and jailed. A further 468 suspects were discharged and 28 suspects were remanded for trial in Abuja or Minna.
Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Catherine Evans