By Sumaila Ogbaje
Some repentant Boko Haram terrorists have expressed regrets for taking up arms against the state, killing of fellow citizens and destruction of properties in the North East.
They made this known during a media tour to one of the holding and screening facilities for the surrendered terrorists in Borno on Tuesday.
One of the repentant fighters, (nana withheld) said he and other surrendered colleagues realised that their commanders lied to them on why they were recruited.
He added that they also realised that they could not continue to live in the bush and continue to run from the military onslaught.
He said that they would have surrendered a long time ago but for fear of being captured and killed by the military.
According to him, surrendering is the best thing to do, urging his colleagues who are yet to surrender to do so.
“We were afraid that we would be killed if we come out but it is not so because we were received without attacking us and we are also being treated humanely since we came out.
“I want to urge my colleagues who are still in the bush to come out and surrender because they will be accepted,” he said.
He disclosed that he had spent about six years fighting the war but later realised that they were not fighting any just cause.
The Commander, 21 Special Armoured Brigade Bama, Brig.-Gen. Adewale Adekeye, said that thousands of Boko Haram fighters, their families and supporters had been received since July.
Adekeye said the theatre command was aware of the fears and apprehension that the recent event had generated among the civilian populace in Borno and the nation at large.
He explained that surrendering was a normal practice in the annals of the history of warfare, saying it had been a time honoured event.
According to him, even in the law of war, when somebody surrenders to you, there are things you are expected to do and that are what the army has been doing.
“The number of insurgents that have surrendered is quite large but, however, most of them have been processed and moved down to the holding facility organised by Borno State Government in Maiduguri.
“But we are the first point of call for these insurgents coming down from the bush and therefore, many responsibilities are bestowed on us being the first contact to profiling them,” he said.
The Brigade Commander said the surrendering events had been taking place within Bama Local Government Area of Borno given its large size and proximity to Sambisa Forest.
He added that all units had been instructed on how to receive the surrendering terrorists, process them and evacuate them to Bama main holding cell for further processes, saying the exercise had been going on since July.
He, however, denied insinuation that the surrendered terrorists were being housed in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp anywhere in the state.
“We don’t mix them with the IDPs and of course, you know that the IDPs camp Bama is one of the oldest camps in Borno State.
“Population in the camp has reduced due to the resettlement of the IDPs back to their ancestral homes but the IDPS camp is a separate thing and it is not under my command but the state emergency management agency,” he said.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said that the recent surrender had depleted the strength of the Boko Haram terrorists to a great extent.
Nwachukwu said that there were concerns over the surrender of the terrorists, hence the need to inform the public that their surrendering was genuine.
“We have seen quite a large abandonment of the illicit activities of Boko Haram terrorists and that is the more reason why we decided to come to the theatre of operation to see for ourselves.
“How these insurgents are surrendering to our troops and to allay the fears and apprehension of members of the public with regard to these issues,” he said.
He commended the commander and troops for their vigilance and gallantry that had led to the mass surrender of the terrorists in their area of responsibility. (NAN)