From Molly Kilete, Maiduguri
The number of Boko Haram terrorists surrendering from their hideouts and enclaves in the Sambisa Forests, fringes Lake Chad and other locations in the northeast hit 10,000, on Wednesday according the Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, Major Gen Christopher Musa.
He said the number has continued to increase on a daily basis since the military adopted the kinetic method of the counter insurgency war which he said was yielding very positive result. He therefore advised those who are yet to make up their minds to surrender to do so now that they have the opportunity.
Gen Musa, made this known when the director army public relations Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu led a team of Defence correspondents from Abuja to theatre headquarters in Maiduguri the Borno state capital.
He said “the number as of today Wednesday has increased to 10,000, and it will get more more than that.
The theatre commander assured there would be no compromise and favoritism as far as the military is concerned as all surrendered terrorists especially the fighters would be made to face the law accordingly.
He however pointed out that not all those who have surrendered were terrorists as some of them after being abducted by the terrorists were forced to work as servants, farmers, traders, errand boys and do other do domestic jobs for the terrorists.
In an interview with the Defence correspondents Gen Musa, spoke about the fears of Nigerians about the sincerity of the surrendered terrorists, the victims affected their atrocities, the counterterrorism operations and other security issues. On the remnant of terrorists who are still in the bush, he said
“The best option for everyone is to surrender and come out of the bush to a peaceful environment. The Chief of Army Staff once mentioned that it does not make sense for humans to go and stay in the bushes just like animals.
“For whatever reason, they have no cause to take up arms against the nation, they have no cause to kill anybody. Anybody that has any issue with the nation should come out because there are avenues that have been provided for them to air their views and it will be listened to and attended to and they will be solution.
“So I want to call on all those that are still staying in the bush whether ISWAP or any other arm group any where in the country that there is no reason taking up arms against the nation. We should disarm, we should come out and join the nation to develop a greater Nigeria for our future. I am sure that even they too want their children to have a conducive atmosphere where they will grow and where they will be development because staying in the bush and killing people will not provide that.
“They should not allow anybody to deceive them into taking arms against the nation. They will never win and they can never win.
And so it is important for them to understand that right from the beginning and anybody who disarms will be treated fairly according to international laws.
He said There are laws of the federation that guide these issues.
There are some of those that surrendered are being sorted out and they are some of them that were conscripted forcefully, some of them grew up in the system without even knowing what was going on, some of them were just being held as ordinary slaves and used as formers and whatever.
We will sort everybody out and then the law will take its cause.
“So we want to reassure the citizenry that we are on top of the game, we assure them that we will continue to do our best to ensure that peace returns to the north east which is our mandate.
On the allegations that the surrendered terrorists were being kept in the same van with of with IDPs, the theatre commander said “There is no way we can mix the up with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the same camp. The IDPs are camped separately and being treated fairly by the government while these ones are handled separately. They are sorted out, their commanders are kept in different locations while those that are not fighters are kept in different locations.
So there is no mixture because everybody is going to answer according to his own deeds.
“We guarantee the public that they should be confident that the Nigerian military, the operation Hadin Kai will ensure that the proper and the right thing is done and no compromise.
Also on the alleged that the terrorists were being pampered, he said “Internationally, even during combat, when somebody surrenders, by law we are not allow us to shoot that individual. We are supposed to hold him, arrest him and treat him humanely. I don’t know if people misunderstood humane treatment as being pampering. If he is sick we are supposed to treat him, if he is hungry we are supposed to give him food, we are supposed to provide him shelter just like any other person and that is exactly what’s we are doing.
“So there is no aspect of pampering. We are just keeping them as humans to ensure that they are fit enough to go though proper procedure and they will definitely go through this procedure.
“Again, let me assure the public that there is no any aspect of pampering, we are sorting them out so that those that didn’t play any parts will be handled separately while those ones that took part actively, the combatants will be treated separately. So there p no any aspect of pampering of anybody.
Asked asked on the fears by Nigerians on the insincerity or genuineness of surrendered terrorists, Gen Musa, said “If you look at how it started, it was because of the kinetic and non-kinetic actions. Kinetic action was to make them understand that you can not fight the nation and win and that is what the military has been doing all the while and that is yielding the result. The non-kinetic action is to give them windows of opportunity instead of staying and being killed, you have the opportunity of repenting and coming out and when you come out the laws with its parts by treating you and knowing exactly what it is that you have done.
He said “We have advised the governments that even when you do that, we need to get the victims across so that we have seen models that have been used in other countries.
“South Africa, Rwanda used that model because no matter what do you, the kinetic aspect will never be the final solution. They must come and there must be dialogue and it is this aspect of dialogue that brings this aspect that we sit down with them and they will sit down with the victims and there will be a truth and reconciliation committee that both will look at themselves face to face and say to the extent this was what was done, what next, the victims will listen and agree on this whatever is to be done and so whatever process that is being done the victims are carried along.
“We want to ensure that the victims don’t lose out are whatever aspect. So, people should be assured that the proper process is going to take place, and there won’t be any compromise. Some of the victims are military men. I can tell you I have lost wonderful officers and soldiers.
“So, for us to even accept them has been very difficult but professionally we are meant to do that. Once we have those windows and they are working we are meant to ensure that we arrest them bring them in and then the nation will take its proper cause through constitution and that is what is going to happen.
“We want them to agree to understand fully that Operation Hadin Kai is just doing its own bit and the military operation is just one line of operation which is about 20% the remaining 80% has to do with diplomacy, humanitarian, justice, rule of law and all these things. So, that is the stage we are in now.
“They are being secured separately, they are not going to be released just like that, they will be process and some of the procedures we have done is that apart from profiling that is being done by our own Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), DSS and all other security agencies.
So, we have the immigration, the customs and that is what makes it a joint task force operation. Everybody that has anything to do is also checking, we have also invited the NIMC who are taking the profiles of everybody.
“They take their thumb and pictures. So, even after this, we know what they are doing, we know where they are and know where he goes to.
“This goes to show you that we taking the proper procedure and nobody is going to be compromised.
Asked if the Insurgency war was coming to an end he said “I want to assure you that there is greater hope. There is no better time that we have hope than now. They are coming out on their own without anybody going there to give them a peanut, nobody paid anyone to come, we did not pay them to come out. It is on their own volition.
“They have understood that the kinetic effort is yielding results and I can assure you that if everybody is peaceful it will translate down to other parts of the country and that is all we are trying to do.
ISWAP as we know is a foreign terrorist organisation that is funded by foreign individuals and probably some local but mostly foreign and then they have foreign leadership which means they have not stake in Nigeria.
“It is very clear that ISWAP are foreigners coming to invade our country which will never allow to happen.
That is why I want to encourage those of them especially those members that are with them to pull out and understand that they have no stake in what those guys are doing. They don’t wish the country well they, don’t wish themselves well and we will never allow any foreigner is step an inch on ground in Nigeria.
“So, I think we want to make that very clear so that people understand that that if we handle this properly I can assure you that we will see the ends of insurgency in the country and that is very important”.