When Boko Haram, ISWAP fighters call it quit
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
Terrorists in Nigeria have finally seen the light, or so, it seems. In the last two weeks, several of the extremist sects’ top Commanders, notorious Chiefs and other wanted members ‘turned a new leaf’. They ‘voluntarily’ renounced their membership of both Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) sects.
Those who surrendered went a step further: they presented themselves before military authorities and troops in the North East. They succumbed, and promised never to take up arms against the Nigerian State, again. Most of them had bitter tales to narrate after submitting themselves, and their arms.
Last Saturday, 7 August, 2021, it was reported that no fewer than 300 fighters threw in their towel as loyalists of Boko Haram and ISWAP. Among those who denounced their membership include one Amir Abu Darda, a top Commander. Darda was in charge of making Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, for the dreaded sect. 20 IED experts in Boko Haram’s assemblage also toed the path of their acclaimed leader Darda, and surrendered.
Then, on Tuesday, 10 August, 2021, PRNigeria, in a report, said 45 persons including 14 teenagers and 31 others, surrendered to Nigerian military troops, in the North East. According to the authoritative press release platform, the 45 persons were hitherto fighters of Boko Haram and ISWAP.
PRNigeria gathered that the ‘repentant’ terrorists publicly renounced their membership at Konduga Local Government Area in Borno State. Five of the ex-Boko Haram-ISWAP fugitives, who spoke with PRNigeria, explained that they were forcefully conscripted to join the terrorists’ groups.
Hear one of them, Modu Malaram, an indigene of Jaja Kalwa: “Wallahi, most of us were young or weak to fight the Boko Haram Commanders who picked us from our villages. All the while, we knew the group was evil, but could not fight or protest because we could have been killed. Those that attempted to flee were summarily executed in our presence.”
Earlier on Thursday, 5 August 2021, the Nigeria Army disclosed, in a release, that 56 terrorists surrendered as troops escalate operations across North East theatre. Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, a Brigadier General, said, “More Boko Haram (BHT)/ Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists are surrendering as troops of Operations HADIN KAI (OPHK), conducting Counter terrorism and counter Insurgency operations in North East Nigeria escalate ground and air offensive operations against the terrorists.”
According to Gen. Nwachukwu, “sustained air and artillery bombardments on the enclaves of the terrorists in Sambisa forest and its environs have continued to yield positive results as 56 terrorists and their families laid down their arms abandoning the groups and their illicit course. Recently, the terrorist groups have suffered enormous setbacks and recorded several casualties as a result of ferocious offensives by gallant troops of OPHK.
“Eighteen male fighters of the terrorist groups on Wednesday 4 August 2021, came out to surrender to troops with their arms and ammunition, along with their families including 18 adult females and 19 children from Chingori and other surrounding villages around the Sambisa forest.
“The arms recovered from the surrendered terrorists include, 5 AK-47 rifles, 1 foreign AK-47 rifle with telescopic sight, 1 Fabrique Nationale rifle, 8 AK-47 rifle magazines, 1 FN rifle magazine, 1 Bandolier, 3 rounds of 7.62mm (special) ammunition and the sum of N7, 700.
‘It will be recalled that in less than 2 weeks, over 100 BHTs/ISWAP terrorists and their families have succumbed to ferocious offensive operations of Nigerian troops by laying down their arms and giving up the fight as their enclaves are being bombarded by the combined efforts of the Air component and ground troops of Operation HADIN KAI.”
So far, no other violent groups other than Boko Haram and ISWAP have held Nigeria, and its neighbouring African nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroun to ransom. For more than a decade, fighters of the terrorist sects have maimed thousands of lives, and deformed many others. They have destroyed several critical infrastructural facilities in the North East. Their senseless bomb attacks have sacked many villages, and displaced residents of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. No thanks to the callous activities of Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgency, million citizens of the North East have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), with no hope for a bright future.
Sure, the counter-insurgency war is still far from been won. But we must all acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian troops. This will boost their morale. Conversely, the military authorities, however, must tread with caution in handling the ‘repentant’ terrorists. It should not be that these hitherto Boko Haram and ISWAP extremists who turned a new leaf are served their just dessert—as advocated in some quarters.
The military, through the non-kinetic operation codenamed ‘Safe Corridor’ will do well in properly rehabilitating, rewiring and re-calibrating the ex-terrorists’ psyche and mindsets—like they have been doing for the terrorists who called it quit—at a point, before now. That is the way to go about lifting the spirit and giving hope to this set of reformed criminals. If they can abandon their evil way for peace to be restored in the North East and Nigeria, in general, then relevant authorities must also temper justice with mercy. Repentant Boko Haram and ISWAP members deserves another chance.
Abdulsalam Mahmud is Assistant Editor PRNigeria
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