603 Repentant Fighters Set To Rejoin Society
They have been surrendering in droves of late. And their stories of recruitment and surrender have been as outlandish as they are intriguing.
Many of them narrated that the heat from the firepower of the military was becoming unbearable.
They also spoke about the promises that were made that encouraged them to join terrorist groups only to find at the end that they were empty promises.
Their tales were laden with regrets.
These were former fighters of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and its Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) affiliates operating in the North East of Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin bordering Nigeria with Chad and Niger.
The former fighters narrated how military offensive on their former hideouts and camps had been so much so that divisions not only broke out among their erstwhile commanders, many of them were also eager to surrender while their families, especially women and children whom they had all along used as human shields in Sambisa forest and other hideouts and camps, were now being dumped and abandoned, to enable them escape.
They cited the dumping of 33 women and 39 children, totalling 72, at Ngala town, near Sambisa forest as an example.
The military corroborated their story, citing the killing of late 19 Amir’s or commanders of the BHT/ISWAP terrorist groups by troops, compared to a total of 18 Amir’s killed between January and March 2020.
Indeed, the number of ISWAP fighters surrendering has recently, according to the military, increased by the day with 11 of them throwing in the towel on May 11, 2020 in Adamawa State.
Meanwhile, 603 surrendered fighters, who claimed to have repented, screened and profiled, are undergoing de-radicalization under Operation Safe Corridor and are due to pass out in June 2020 before being reintegrated into society.
Already, 280 surrendered repentant terrorists have successfully undergone the programme and have been reintegrated into the society.
25 of this number are from Niger and have been repatriated to their country.
Speaking on why they decided to surrender, many of the surrendered fighters told Sunday Vanguard that the heat from the firepower of the Nigerian military was becoming unbearable.
They cited constant air force bombardments in day time and in the night.
Also of note was the artillery bombs fired from afar by ground troops to neutralize Boko Haram fighters’ tactics of ambush and catching troops unawares.
Some of the former fighters confessed that they had seen the deceit of their commanders who induced them with promises of wives and money.
“But when we joined, we found out there were no wives and money was not forthcoming. Rather there were die-hard female BHT members who provided sex and could not be married. So after returning from any expedition, you could have sex at random with any woman”, one of them said.
“Also, whenever the BHT commanders sent us, as foot soldiers, to go and attack villages or traders in markets and loot money or other logistics needs’ and we returned, the commanders would corner everything and give us only paltry cash from what we had brought while taking the large chunk.
“To appease us, they would give us hard drugs to make us high”
Military officials said about 396 BHT/ISWAP fighters had been killed and hundreds escaped with various degrees of gunshot wounds over the past five weeks.
Besides, the officials said there were several other fighters, including key leaders, believed to have been killed by air bombardments but whose remains could not be located.