Military authorities in Northeast Nigeria have sought help from the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) in managing over 17,000 repentant Boko Haram terrorists currently in government custody.
Theatre Commander Operation Hadin Kai, Major General Chris Musa, made the plea when he led members of the military hierarchy in the region to the corporate headquarters of the NEDC on Friday Nov. 5, in Maiduguri.
General Musa, who assumed office in June this year, said he would not shy away in seeking avenues to cooperate with NEDC since the military is part of the region under the intervention agency’s area of responsibility.
“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 Theater 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 surrenderers 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.
“We know the NEDC can intervene because we know you have the support of the federal government, and we desire to see that we have an inter-ministerial committee and together we will come together to see how we can holistically manage this surrender, especially of the combatants.”
“If we manage them well, more will come out and I assure you that we are going to give the peace that we all desire in good time.
ISWAP in chaos
The theatre commander said the current massive surrender by Shekau’s loyalists has affected the breakaway ISWAP faction.
“The ISWAP thought they were going to take over and use the Shekau group as their foot soldiers, but unfortunately for them, God did not allow that. God has made it possible for them to keep on surrendering and they are now panicking.”
He said the military has credible intel that ISWAP had set up task forces to ensure that the Shekau loyalists did not surrender.
“This is happening not by our efforts, it is God that is divinely intervening,” he said.
While stressing the need for NEDC’s support, General Musa said “if we have peace in the Northeast we know that it will transcend to other regions of Nigeria.”
The military officer also called on the NEDC to help the Nigerian military tackle both its logistics and infrastructural deficits that are hampering their operations.
In his remark, The NEDC chief executive, Alkali, commended the military for the works they were doing, while reiterating that the mandate of the Commission is purely around the issue of development.
“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.
The number 17,000 is more than the population in some of the IDP camps. But I was a bit relieved to know that there are different levels amongst the surrendering insurgents.
“Nobody had expected that there was going to be this kind of surrender. But as the Theater 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.”
The MD however said the most important issue before the commission is the ongoing move by the Borno state government to close all camps by the end of December. To that, he said the Commission would work together with the military to see how the Borno state government could be assisted to have a hitch-free relocation of IDPs.
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