NIGERIAN Army commanders have received another fresh batch of over 200 repentant Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (Iswap) fighters and their families over the weekend as the militants surrendered to troops in Borno State.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has been fighting the Nigerian state as it seeks to establish a purist Islamic theocracy across the northeast of the country. Iswap, later broke away from Boko Haram and of late, has emerged as the stronger of the two groups but in recent weeks, many of its fighters have been surrendering to the Nigerian authorities.
Under the federal government’s amnesty programme, these so-called repentant terrorists are being rehabilitated, with some of them even incorporated into the Nigerian military. According to the Nigerian Army high command, a total of 186 Boko Haram terrorists surrendered on Saturday led by their amir, a certain Manye Aga, to troops of Operation Hadin Kai at the forward operational base in Ajiri in Borno State.
Then on Sunday, the military received 33 additional Boko Haram fighters from Landanli, Azah, Ngaridua and Kondilla villages, who surrendered to troops of the 151 Task Force Battalion, Banki Junction in Bama. Army spokesman Brigadier Onyema Nwachukwu, stated that despite the outcries and widespread condemnation that greeted the exercise, it was successful.
Many Nigerians have called for the due prosecution of the former fighters instead of a blanket pardon and rehabilitation with tax payers’ money. Even the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, had expressed concern over the amnesty, saying it will be hard for the people of Borno State and the northeast to forgive these terrorists, given the crimes they have committed.
Brigadier Nwachukwu said: “Following the recent unprecedented and massive surrendering of Boko Haram Terrorists in the Bama operational area between August 2 and 4, there has been confusion and severe apprehension in the camps of the Islamic State of West Africa Province especially among its top ranking commanders over the depleting strength of its members, which has drastically dwindled their overall fighting efficiency. It is against this back drop that the terrorists group opted for the use of propaganda via Amaq Terrorists Media Wing with the aim to portray the group as if it is still a potent force in the northeast.
“The current trend of apprehension in their camps was further aggravated by the recent alarming turnout of members of the terrorists group, who came out in droves with their families to lay down their arms and surrender to own troops at Mafa Local Government Area on 14 August, 2021. A total of 186 Boko Haram terrorists led by their amir, Manye Aga, comprising 67 adult males, 54 adult females and 65 children surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai at the forward operational base Ajiri.
” Items recovered from the surrendered terrorists include, several AK 47 rifles and magazines, a locally made pistol and 8 locally fabricated daggers. Similarly, on 15 August, 2021, the theatre took custody of additional Boko Haram fighters, comprising of 4 adult males, 11 adult females and 18 children from Landanli, Azah, Ngaridua and Kondilla villages, who surrendered to own troops of 151 Task Force Battalion, Banki Junction in Bama.
“Iswap is yet to come to terms with the reality of its current predicament, which has posed serious negative impact on its prowess. It is also worthy of note that the terrorists are overwhelmed with palpable fear and are making desperate efforts to halt the ongoing surrendering of their fighters from the Tumbus and Sambisa axis.
“The Nigerian military is more resolute in intensifying both kinetic and non-kinetic efforts in the fight against insurgency, banditry and sundry crimes in the country.”