The Nigerian Armed Forces on Thursday said that the 601 repentant Boko Haram terrorists released after undergoing a de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programme were “low risk” who “were ascertained to be innocent and forcefully conscripted to join the sects and are categorized as victims.”
Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major General John Enenche told journalists in Abuja that Nigerians have nothing to worry about the released repentant terrorists as they were “duly profiled” and that additional “monitoring mechanisms have been put in place to monitor their activities in the society.”
Last month, 601 ex-Boko Haram terrorists including 14 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger were reintegrated into the society through their respective national and State authorities. But the reports elicited condemnations from the civil society and the religious community.
On Wednesday night, Presidential Spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu also allayed the fears of Nigerians, stating that “nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption. None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military.”
General Enenche explained to journalists that Operation SAFE CORRIDOR under which the “willingly surrendered and repentant Boko Haram combatants” were re-trained is a Defence Headquarters led non-kinetic multi-agency humanitarian operation established by The Presidency. Though under the military, other Law Enforcement and Security Agencies, 12 Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), other local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) also collaborate and support the Operation.
The Defence Spokesperson added that “the Operation is guided by extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) and International Humanitarian and Human Right Laws.”
General Enenche noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria have continued “aggressive clearance operations” in the Northwest zone of the country, “leading to gradual restoration of overall human activities” in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and adjoining States.
In addition, he said, “through the concerted efforts of Operations HADARIN DAJI, KATSINA, ACCORD and SAHEL SANITY, farmers have returned to their farms while other economic activities are gradually picking up across the zone. Troops continued to dominate the general area with clearance patrols, aggressive fighting patrols, raids, ambushes and confidence-building patrols.
“This is additional to several air bombardments of identified bandits’ locations and hideouts, which has made it possible for the conduct of farming and other activities in the zone. These operations also resulted in the rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled livestock, arrest of suspected armed bandits informants and collaborators in addition to the recoveries of large cache of arms and ammunition, among others within the period.”
In the Northeast corridor of operation, Enenche stated that “between 23 July and 5 August 2020, own troops executed various kinetic operations, including clearance operations, aggressive patrols and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions, sustained air offensive operations as well as artillery and aerial bombardments on BHT/ISWAP enclaves.”
In the Northcentral zone, he said “troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN also conducted a drug raid operation on 4 August 2020. Accordingly, troops in conjunction with police operatives and vigilante conducted drug raid to Unguwar Mata and New Market General Area in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State following credible intelligence on the activities of drug peddlers in the general area. Troops arrested seven suspects at the scene and recovered large quantity of substances suspected to be Cannabis Sativa and other illicit drugs. The suspects were subsequently handed over to police for further action.”
The troops, he added, “conducted Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities in addition to concerted Reconciliation and Conciliation efforts in the form of stakeholders’ meetings amongst the various ethnic groups in the region. These non-kinetic efforts were supported by ongoing kinetic operations in the form of ambushes, raids, and clearance patrols at various locations which resulted in appreciable successes within the period under review.”
In the South South/Niger Delta region, General Enenche stated that “troops of Operation DELTA SAFE have intensified the fight against crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering in the region with attendant successes. Within the period under review, Operation DELTA SAFE discovered and deactivated 25 illegal refining sites in Rivers, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
“Also, a total of 342, 000, 00 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO were impounded. Subsidiary operations CALM WATERS II and SWIFT RESPONSE have continued to record remarkable successes. The successes recorded within the period include seizure of 141 x 50 kg bags of foreign parboiled rice as well as arrest of boats involved in smuggling activities amongst others.
As part of non-kinetic activities, Nigerian Navy Ship DELTA led a peace and reconciliation meeting with the stakeholders of Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South LGA of Delta State. The peace meeting was held following recent threats to disrupt oil and gas infrastructure by the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom. Accordingly, the Naval Base summoned a meeting with the key actors in the agitation. The activists thanked the military for the timely intervention and promised to tow the path of peace. The meeting was fruitful as they promised to do all within their reach to forestall violence in the area. They also solicited for the cooperation of the military in providing security to the general area.”
He added that the Military High Command commended “all the gallant troops of the Armed Forces and personnel of other security agencies involved in various operations across the country for their commitment and professionalism. Troops are further encouraged to remain resolute and decisive in curtailing the activities of terrorists, armed bandits and other criminals.
“The High Command of the Armed Forces also reassures the general public of its commitment to securing the country for all human activities to strive. Members of the general public are, as always, enjoined to continue providing timely information on the activities of criminals in their various localities to the nearest military and other security agencies location for prompt and effective action.”