Abuja, November 13, 2021: The Nigerian military has reported that more than 17,000 combatants of the dreaded Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) have surrendered in lingering combat in North East that has caused the death of over 98,000 people.
Worried by the large number of repentant fighters, the military Theatre Commander, Joint Task Force of “Operations Hadin Kai”, Maj-Gen Christopher Musa, reported on Saturday in Maiduguri in Borno state, the epicentre of jihadists, that more than 54,454 families of the insurgents were also in custody.
Aside the human casualty, the insurgency in the North East since 2009 has rendered more than six million people homeless, and caused the destruction of social and economic infrastructure, including the damage to electricity facilities.
Agriculture, the mainstay of the more than 43 million people in the six north east states has been paralysed with fighters destroying farms, killing and abducting farmers and their children.
Education has been grounded as many schools have been shut and more than one million children are afraid to go back as schools resumed early October 2021.
The renewed onslaught against the fighters due to acquisition and deployment of superior weapons and fighter planes has subdued many of the fighters who are surrendering massively from their hideouts, especially those in Sambisa forest in Borno on the fringes of Niger and Cameroon republics.
Worried by the huge number, Gen Musa said the growing number of those surrendering as the military continue to profile them since 2020 has warranted the need for the intervention of the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) in catering for the repentant fighters and their families.
He noted that the development was a positive one that remains a source of concern to members of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), who have started panicking as their hope to inherit Boko Haram fighters has boomeranged.
Gen Musa said that the disturbed ISWAP group had even set up a task force to stop the trend of surrendering, adding that the way the surrendered are manage would ginger more who are still in the bush to come out.
“We have over 17,000 surrendered Boko Haram members and the number keeps increasing by the day, so we solicit the kind support and intervention of the NEDC to help manage the situation,” the Theatre Commander said.
General Musa, who is visiting the Commission for the first time, said of the 17,000 surrendering Boko Haram terrorists, “some were conscripted not with their own free will; some are slaves, some are forced to work as farmers to produce food, and so on.”
He said the numbers of surrenders are gradually becoming overwhelming but the military “will continue to push harder for more of them to come out.”
“So far thousands have surrendered, the question is what next, and that is why we feel it is important we come here to see how we can work together.”
General Musa said many of the terrorists are willing to surrender but he doubts if the state alone can handle them.
He said that all hands were on deck to put an end to terrorism and restore peace in the North East.
“We know that if we have peace in north east it will transcend to other regions,” Musa said.
The military officer also called on the NEDC to help the Nigerian military tackle both its logistics and infrastructural deficits that are hampering operations.
The Managing Director of NEDC, Mr Mohammed Alkali, lauded the effective role of the military in restoring peace in the region and added that the improvement in security in north east had enabled the commission to embark on various projects and other non-kinetic support in recovered areas.
Alkali who assured the military of continuous collaboration and support, urged them to sustain the tempo at this critical time of closure of camps in Maiduguri and resettlement of displaced persons back to their ancestral homes.
“But we can’t have development without peace, hence the need to support the military who is in the forefront of the effort to regain its peace cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
He, however, said that he was a bit disturbed by the large number of Boko Haram terrorists that are surrendering.
“Nobody had expected that there was going to be this kind of surrender. But as the Theatre commander said there is a need to segregate the combatant from the non-combatant ones, get the data on the board and see how we can act upon it.”
“I’m sure the federal government has its plan to carry out at the end of the day, but during the interim period what do we do? That is why this kind of collaboration is important.”