Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
No fewer than 106 persons who “escaped” from Boko Haram captivity have found their way into the hands of the Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF).
Ninety-four of the escapees, who were Nigerians, were released to the Borno State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kaka Shehu Lawan at a remote location in the Republic of Chad.
A statement shared on the verified social media handles of the Borno State Government said the MNJTF on Tuesday received 106 civilians who escaped from the Boko Haram terrorists and surrendered to them.
The said that the 94 Nigerians were made up of 37 adult males, 17 adult females and 40 children while the other 12 escapees were Cameroonians and Chadians.
The Commander of the MNJTF, Major General Ibrahim Yusuf, said that it was interesting that some of the escapees voluntarily surrendered themselves to the Headquarters Sector 1 of the MNJTF in far North Cameroon while the women and children were rescued.
Yusuf said that some of the surrendered persons would be investigated to ascertain their relationship with the terrorists.
He said: “This is a strong indication of success because success in counter insurgency operations is measured not just by the number of insurgents that were killed, but as well the number of those that are surrendering and reduction in their recruitment base. So, obviously this is a success indicator.
“The multinational nature of the operations involving Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria has enabled us to operate seamlessly and that is why it is the same thing whether they surrendered in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad or Niger.
“It is one cohesive force, but the onus now is on us, and we have the guidelines and since they are Nigerians , we have to transfer them to the Nigerian government and the one person from Chad, we have to arrange to get him to Chad, which is part of our mandate.”
In his remarks, the Borno’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, who led six man delegation that included the Commissioners of Women Affairs and Religious Affairs and special advisers, said the state government was going to profile, debrief, de-radicalise and reintegrate the escapees.
The attorney general said those profiled as ex-fighters would be sent to Nigerian military’s “operation safe corridor” while the rescued women would undergo stages of counseling before their debriefing.
“We received a report that a number of our citizens have surrendered to the MNJTF and we also have others that are not members of the Boko Haram sect. But pursuant to the clearance operation, they were rescued following the liberation of villages they were held captive.
“So, we are here to see for ourselves and ascertain how many of them are truly indigenes of Borno? How many are fighters and how many are not fighters? How many are women and children?
“Secondly, having identified the number of fighters and non-fighters, women and children, we’ll plan for evacuation of those that are innocent, those rescued as a result of clearance operation immediately to Maiduguri, with a view to reintegrating them because they are innocent.
“The ones that are fighters will be transferred to “operation safe corridor” with a view to de-radicalising them.”