Military’s Conduct Encouraging Defection Of Boko Haram Fighters

Boko Haram fighters and families not willing to join the ranks of ISWAP are surrendering to security forces in droves.

A favourable treatment and outcome after defections are encouraging Boko Haram fighters to give up their violent campaign and surrender to Nigerian troops in the country’s Northeast region, HumAngle can report. 

HumAngle understands that the desertion is coming after the expiration of an ISWAP  ultimatum given to Boko Haram fighters to join its ranks or face repercussions from the group’s onslaught.  

This imminent threat isolates Boko Haram units and has led to waves of new arrivals comprising fighters and families, including  women and children, and likely captives abducted during attacks and raids.  

A sharp drop in reported cases of alleged summary executions by military units and vigilantes at the theatre makes the terrorists contemplate the option of defection. And as the assurance from the conduct of the military becomes loud, more defections are likely.

The former fighters are opting to surrender and submit items in their possession, including arms, ammunition and cash. They are also willing to face a trial process for low and high risk Boko Haram fighters. 

The women are debriefed by military intelligence and children immunised, following which state and humanitarian actors capture their details and settle them in displaced person camps.

HumAngle understands that more defections are expected to continue as fighters navigate the muddy and riverine terrain caused by the rainy season as they head to garrison towns to surrender to the military. 

In May, ISWAP overran Boko Haram’s Sambisa stronghold in an assault leading to the death of the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau.  

HumAngle had earlier reported on desertion happening in Bama Local Government Area located in southeast Borno State, far north of Cameroon near the border with Nigeria. 

The continuous desertion of fighters and surrendering of weapons reduces or starves the insurgency of combatants and lethal weapons.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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