The Multi-National Joint Task Force – the regional military arm of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon fighting the Boko Haram insurgents – has said more repentant terrorists are expected to “surrender in the coming weeks.”
The MNJTF Chief of Public Information, Col Timothy Antigha, stated this in an exclusive chat, noting that the escape of the repentant terrorists could attract instant execution from the insurgents’ commanders.
Our correspondent gathered from military records that no fewer than 931 former Boko Haram fighters had been pardoned and taken through the Nigerian military’s Operation Safe Corridor between October 2019 and July 2020.
Antigha noted that in the latest release recorded by the MNJTF in Mora, Cameroon, which was 47 repentant terrorists, those members who are Nigerians would be sent to Operation Safe Corridor in Gombe.
The MNJTF spokesman said, “Forty-seven successfully evaded obstacles and escaped from their camps to surrender. There is a regime of falsehood and intimidation in the Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province enclaves. Firstly, terrorists are made to believe that they would be killed if they come out to surrender.
“Secondly, escape is risky and could attract instant execution. So, it takes a lot of planning and guts to come out and surrender. Consequently, the flow is slow, but we are convinced that our message regarding the safety of surrendered terrorists is loud and clear. Therefore, more surrenders will happen in weeks ahead.
“Surrendered terrorists are usually interviewed to get a grip on their level of investment and thereafter profiling. On completion of these processes they have been released to the relevant authorities for further action. Only Nigerians will be sent to Operation Safe Corridor. Other countries have their own structures and procedures.”
From military records, on October 10, 2019, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, confirmed 281 former Boko Haram fighters in Gombe State undergoing the “structured deradicalisation process.”
Of the 281 fighters, 254 members including two Chadians were returned to their states for reintegration after completing the programme.
On May 15, 2020, the DHQ confirmed that 603 former Boko Haram fighters would be released by June after undergoing the programme.
Then, 47 also surrendered to the MNJTF troops in the second week of July in Cameroon.
The total number of the surrendered insurgents between October 2019 and July 2020 gives 931 repentant fighters.
In another development, the Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Magashi (retd.), has said the Federal Government has inducted several military campaigns in the Niger Delta region targeted at curbing oil thefts in the area.
The defence minister listed crimes in the region to include illegal refineries, pipeline vandalism, degradation and desecration of the lands by hoodlums.
Magashi spoke in Abuja on Friday, while receiving the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who was on a working visit to the ministry headquarters, according to a release obtained by our correspondent. The release was signed by Magashi’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri.