Borno state Governor Babagana Umara Zulum has said about 2,600 insurgents have surrendered and currently under the care of the state government.
The governor said this Tuesday in Abuja while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the repentant insurgents were being properly profiled while the innocent ones among them would be immediately resettled.
“Right now, we have about 2,600 in our custody but mind you, this number is inclusive of their children and their wives, including their families. Among these people that have surrendered, some are innocent.
“We have started profiling them with the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Services (DSS), so that those that have not committed a heinous crime, especially the teenagers and women, we can find an immediate way of resettling them back.
“Those that are deeply involved also we shall look into the possibility of training them so that at a later stage, the federal and the state governments will decide to keep them so as to address the issue holistically.
“But the good news is that the Nigerian Army is providing enough support to us; we are getting enough cooperation from the Nigerian Army, DSS and the Nigerian Police and we thank God for the President,” he said.
The governor said the massive surrender by insurgents was a good omen for the government and people of Borno state because a lot had been lost to insurgency in the past 12 years.
“I came to brief the president over the ongoing surrender by insurgents. I think to me and the greater majority of the people of Borno state, this is a very good development because in the last 12 years, thousands of lives were lost and people completely lost their means of livelihood.
“We harvested a total number of over 50, 000 orphans and widows. These are official figures and the unofficial figures are more than this and we were able to cultivate not more than three percent of our total arable land because of the insurgents and right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10 percent of people of Borno state is not known to all of us at all.
“This is a very serious matter and the report of the surrender of the insurgents is a very welcome development. Unless we want to continue with an endless war, I see no reason why we should reject those that are willing to surrender.
“The President has given me and the people of Borno state the assurances of his continuous support in this direction so that his matter can be resolved amicably,” the governor further said.
Governor Zulum also said consultations were on to develop a framework to ensure an end to the insurgency in the North-east.
He said: “Deepening internal democracy and social cohesion is the prelude to sustainable peace in any nation. Therefore, we are not unaware of the negative effects of this programme and that is why we want to see the involvement of the federal government in a large scale.
“The way forward is that we shall immediately hold a stakeholders’ meeting in Borno state, comprising of the Ministries of Defence, Interior, Humanitarian Affairs, the Attorney General and most importantly the National Intelligence Agency also because we have some foreign involvements in the matter.
“We will also involve the traditional rulers and especially the victims so that we can come up with resolutions and far reaching recommendations that can be programmed in a structured manner. The recommendations shall also be forwarded to the President,” he said.
He said the current surrender and resettlement of the repentant insurgents is a critical humanitarian crisis that needed to be addressed without delay.
Irabor allays fear
In a related development, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has described the attack on Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) officers’ residential quarters as criminal.
He said: “It is criminal activities associated with the normal banditry action which the military was already on the matter.”
The CDS equally allayed the fears of the general public on the ongoing mass surrendering of Boko Haram (BH)/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) ex-fighters to the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
A statement by Director Defence Information Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Sawyerr , said Irabor stated this Tuesda in Yola at the Chief of Defence Staff interactive session with retired senior military officers in the North-east geo-political zone.
The CDS urged residents of the North-east and Nigerians in general to trust the relevant agencies tasked with responsibilities of planning the rehabilitation of repented insurgents.
He said the AFN would “deal with the matter for the good of the region, as there will be no loose ends.”
“He expressed appreciation to the citizens and residents of the North-east region for supporting the ongoing intensive clearance operations by troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) towards the restoration of permanent peace in the Zone.
“While seeking for more support, Gen Irabor said the solutions to the Northeast security challenges lie in the region, adding that the situation would get better and better in the days ahead,” the statement said.
The Defence Chief urged the military veterans to take full advantage of the security parley in evaluating the various military operations, as their patriotic and constructive assessment of the general security situation would add value to the ongoing actionable military offensive clearance operations.
“What remain very clear is the desire and will of the AFN to speedily turn around the fortune of the NE to a state where everyone will be happy again,” he said.