Repentant insurgents: ‘Why military not in hurry to close camps’
The Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai (OHK), General Christopher Musa, has said the military is not contemplating early closure of the three camps for repented insurgents, despite challenges of maintaining 82,000 former Boko Haram fighters in Maiduguri.
He disclosed that kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to the battle against insurgency have been yielding great fruits due to a combination of factors.
Musa stressed that Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum’s promise of gifting N200,000 to any fighter that surrenders with his AK47, in addition to renewed military onslaught, led to a massive withdrawal of the fighters.
Speaking to select journalists at the Theatre Command Headquarters in Maiduguri, yesterday, Musa said: “Once they started coming out and saw that they were free, nobody was tormenting them, nobody was threatening them, then the number started increasing.”
He said many Boko Haram members want to come out. He noted that even their leaders have discovered that they are losing fighting men.
He explained: “If you are a commander, you can’t fight. So, what they have done is that they have set up their own task forces, going around. If they catch any of them with a weapon, coming to surrender, they kill him, just to prevent others from coming out.
“That is why some of them when they are coming out, they hide their weapons. They come out freely. When they come, they report. We go back and dig out the weapons and come down with them.
“I have told you also that the state governor has said if you submit any weapon, there is about N200,000 for any AK47 that you bring and any other weapon. That has also encouraged a lot of them to come out with their weapons. They take a lot of risks.
“There was a time about 100 of them were coming out. They were caught and over 30 were killed. The rest still took the risk and came out. Now, they are coming out with their wives and children.
“I have told you, out of the number, over 41,000 are children. They were growing a new generation of fighters, and those ones are going to be more dangerous than their parents.”
While expressing satisfaction that such a huge number of former fighters are out of the bush, General Musa said: “For us, I think the surrendering has assisted in bringing peace to the North East greatly.
“Now, for the camps…you can imagine. 82,000! If any town…I don’t know how many villages where you have about 82,000 people. It is not a small number. Naturally, the three camps have been overfilled definitely.
“But the state government is trying because they have to feed them, they have to provide amenities, medicals and all those things. It is not easy. For the state governor, frankly speaking, if for anything, I think the state has been very lucky because he has been determined even before they started surrendering.”