Africa: IDPs angry as Borno govt plans reintegration of 1,000 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram fighters

The decision by the Borno State Government to reintegrate over 1,000 repentant Boko Haram fighters into society has generated annoyance by some Internally Displaced Persons in the North-East.

The IDPs’ anger is based on the fact that they are still languishing in pain and sorrow caused by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, particularly in Borno State, the epicentre of the insurgency.

Since its campaign to create an Islamic caliphate started around 2009, the Boko Haram sect has reportedly killed over 70,000 people and displaced about 2.5 million people, according to estimates by the International Crisis Group.

Of the displaced, at least 250,000 have reportedly left Nigeria and fled into the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, though Borno State has started receiving some repatriated refugees from the countries.

Military onslaught on the terrorists has reportedly led to the deaths of many of the insurgents, while some of them have reportedly surrendered to the army.

In the latest development on Tuesday, the Nigerian Army in a statement by its spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, announced that no fewer than 1,000 Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (a Boko Haram offshoot) members had laid down their arms and surrendered to the troops.

“All surrendered terrorists will be received, processed and passed on to the relevant agencies of government for further assessment in line with extant provisions,” excerpts from the statement read.

In reaction, the Borno State Government has welcomed the over 1,000 repentant insurgents, saying it is ready to accept and reintegrate them into society.

The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Home Affairs, Mr Babakura Jatau, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, also urged the host communities to accept the ex-fighters as one of them.

Jatau said the “repentance” of the Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters might be the beginning of the end to the insurgency which the country and particularly the state had battled for over a decade.

He said, “At the end of every war, there is reconciliation. Every single war is not ended by the power of the bullet and bomb. They (insurgents) are part and parcel of us. They have surrendered; they are radicalised and they now realise their mistakes.

“Remember, we have been dealing with this problem for the past 13 years. For the past 13 years, the Federal Government has been battling with this insurgency without any peaceful resolution through firepower.

“They (ex-fighters) voluntarily surrendered their arms. There is nothing to do but to accept them and appeal to members of the public to accept them so that they (ex-terrorists) can reintegrate into society because there are many of them in the bush.”

Jatau argued that if the terrorists in the bush saw that those who surrendered were accepted by the people, they would also surrender.

“For us, it means this is the end to the insurgency,” the commissioner added. (Punch)

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