By Jacob Kubeka (ABUJA) –
Over 1,500 persons who have so far surrendered to troops of the Nigerian military in Borno State, are members of Boko Haram and not the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terrorist sect, according to PRNigeria.
This is coming amid reports that armed bandits and Nigerien soldiers are currently fighting along the border community of Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The soldiers from Niger Republic are in Nigerian territory on a rescue mission following bandits’ attack at one of the adjoining communities in Niger Republic, PREMIUM TIMES has reported.
PRNigeria had reported how top Commanders, fighting insurgents of Boko Haram-ISWAP and their family members, including women and children, surrendered to troops in Bama, Gwoza, Mafa, and Konduga, among other axes, in the North East.
The ex-insurgents, after quitting their terrorists turned in themselves, their families and ammunition to military authorities.
Quoting a credible intelligence source, the medium however said this evening that ISWAP fighters, unlike their Boko Haram counterparts, have refused to renounced their extremist ideology and religious terrorism ‘way’.
According to the report, the ISWAP hierarchy, whose camps are located in swamps and isolated communities in the Lake Chad region, have rejected the unofficial ‘amnesty deal’ offered by Nigerian troops, which have been receiving other surrendered Boko Haram ex-members, in recent weeks.
Corroborating PRNigeria’s investigation, a military intelligence officer stationed in the North East, said those who have so far surrendered to troops in various parts of Borno State, are not ISWAP, but former Boko Haram members.
In a related development, public outrage over the decision by relevant authorities to profile and then ‘enlist’ repentant terrorists into deradicalization programmes have compelled some Boko Haram insurgents who renounced their sect, to go into hidden.
It was learnt that some Boko Haram members, who had quit their extremist organisation, do not want to hand themselves over to the military troops.
But they presented their wives, children and other family members, who surrendered on their behalf.
A top security source in Borno, said the repentant ex-terrorists are ‘sceptical’ of the military’s assurance not to arrest, detain and prosecute them.
“They are afraid of what shall become their fate if they dare present themselves to troops even though they have repented and renounced their extremists’ ideologies, as some of their colleagues had earlier done. It seems they are afraid of being prosecuted by the Federal Government. On one hand, there is the issue of stigmatization by members of their society,” he added.
The gunmen reportedly killed a soldier, injured many others and seized a gun truck belonging to the foreign soldiers in the ongoing gun duel that started on Monday, multiple sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mustapha Yusuf, the lawmaker representing Jibia at the State House of Assembly, told this newspaper that gunmen from Nigeria attacked a community in Niger Republic and rustled many livestock into Nigerian territory.
“The soldiers from Niger Republic are in Nigerian territory on a rescue mission following bandits’ attack at one of the adjoining communities in Niger Republic. They are allowed to enter for 30 kilometres based on security arrangements,” the lawmaker said.
Mr Yusuf said one of the foreign soldiers was killed and another injured following an ambush by the bandits in the Jibia area while a gun truck belonging to the foreign soldiers was seized by the bandits.
He added that many of the foreign soldiers and a popular vigilante leader have been missing since Monday.
Also, locals said about 17 vehicles from Niger Republic loaded with soldiers were seen in the Jibia area heading towards a forest. Subsequently, a heavy sound of explosion was heard from the soldiers believed to be engaging the bandits in the forest.
The police spokesperson in Katsina, Gambo Isah, could not be reached for comments as he did not pick calls to his mobile telephone.
(With additional report by PREMIUM TIMES)