Dilemma in Borno as military releases 565 Boko Haram members

Posted by News Express | 3 September 2021 | 728 times

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Borno government and its people are in a dilemma following the release of 565 Boko Haram members to the state by the military authorities that reportedly profiled them.

Some Maiduguri residents and people displaced by the terrorists and now living for years in IDP camps in the state capital said they were “rattled” by what they heard in Abuja on the release of the repentant Boko Haram members to the government.

They wondered how the repentant insurgents could be released few weeks after they surrendered, considering that many of them spent years in enclaves launching attacks.

On its part, the state government is yet to say anything on the latest development.

However, some sources close to the government said there was no formal communication on the handing over.

A senior government official said the repentant insurgents were not released to the government.

He said, “I have enquired about this and I was told the insurgents were not released to the state government and in fact, none of the repentant fighters has been released. They are all undergoing security profiling preparatory to their disarmament and deradicalisation.”

The official further said the deradicalisation programme was being run by the defence headquarters, which had a template on how to handle repentant insurgents.

He said “The state only supports the military towards peacebuilding. Their reintegration will not be immediate. Remember that the military, which leads the programme is at greater risk if wrong decisions are made, so there is so much carefulness in the programme.”

He said a meeting of stakeholders on the fate of the repentant insurgents took place on Sunday and the outcome was adopted by the government as its stand on the matter.

We’ve released them – Military

But the Military High Command said on Thursday it has handed over 565 Boko Haram terrorists to the Borno State government.

Brig.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, who announced this while addressing journalists at Defence Headquarters in Abuja said the Boko Haram members were released to the government for further management after thorough profiling.

He said they include three commanders, five cattle rustling specialists and their family members.

Onyeuko also disclosed that between August 12 and September 1, more than 5,890 terrorists comprising foot soldiers and their commanders surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin kai in the North East.

He said, “Within the period under review, troops of Operation Hadin Kai sustained their operations against terrorists in the North East theatre. The counter-insurgency efforts of the troops through kinetic and non-kinetic operations compelled the terrorists to surrender in large numbers.

“A total of 565 BHT’s comprising 3 Commanders, 4 Amirs, 5 Nakibs and 5 cattle rustling specialists, out of the surrendered BHTs and their family members were handed over to the Borno State government in Maiduguri for further management after thorough profiling.”

But General Onyeuko did not give details on the exact day and venue the handing over was perfected.

The senior military officer added that no fewer than 52 assorted arms and 1,977 rounds of 7.62mm assorted calibre ammunition, including AK-47 and FN rifles with magazines, hand grenades, commando mortar guns, locally fabricated rifles, Dushka anti-aircraft guns, Dane guns and Nigerian Police rifles among other items were recovered from surrendered terrorists.

A credible military source told the Daily Trust last night that considering that 5,890 Boko Haram members surrendered but only 565 were released so far, it meant there was “discretion of sort” in what transpired.

“My take is that our commanders at the top and the Borno government don’t want some of the details out considering the sensitivity of the arrangement. The good news is that some fighters are coming out, which is an unprecedented feat. We have been in this war for over 12 years,” he said.

Falmata Ari, a mother of 3 whose husband was killed by Boko Haram eight years ago said the government should build a new place of abode for the repentant fighters and their families.

“It would make sense if the federal government would go somewhere and build houses with all basic needs of life for them.

“There are fresh wounds in the hearts of many of us. As we speak, many families are living in IDP camps and you want to bring those who killed our loved ones?” she asked.

Baana Bukar, a resident of Maiduguri said the reintegration should be done systematically.

“Government should study how it was done in other places like Saudi Arabia. Many countries suffered from terrorism but they resolved the problem through careful planning,” he said.

‘Why only few surrendered members were released’

An insider told one of our correspondents that less than 20 of all the people released so far could be tagged as “high profile fighters,” adding “based on their profile, it would be exceedingly difficult for them to go back to their old trade. They genuinely repented and would not be harmful to the larger society.”

“More so, 5, 890 people that surrendered were classified into three categories – The high profile terrorists; those with moderate radicalism or forcefully conscripted and then women and children.

“So, the high profile fighters that allegedly repented would be taken to Gombe and other places for additional profiling and deradicalisation. Those in the second category would be deradicalised in the available facilities in Maiduguri, before a decision would be taken on how they would be reintegrated and those in the last category, depending on discussion with community leaders would be released in piecemeal,” he said. (Daily Trust)

Source: News Express

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