Says 10% of population can’t be accounted for
26000 surrendered insurgents in custody
By Egena Sunday Ode
No fewer than 100,000 people have been killed in the 12-year old insurgency in Borno State, Governor Babagana Zulum, has said.
The governor also asserted that over 200,000 of the population have suffered as victims with 100,000 orphaned and another 100,000 widowed.
He made the claim in a chat with newsmen on Tuesday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Zulum said he discussed the issue of possible rehabilitation of the repentant terrorists with the President and that he gave a commitment to provide leadership in that direction.
Saying the country can not afford to completely ignore them, the governor noted that no law prescribed the killing of surrendered insurgents, adding that they would be trained for the purpose of reintegration.
Governor Zulum noted that most of the repentant Boko Haram terrorists were women and young children who had been trained to handle AK-47, assuring that they would be subjected to the extant laws of the country.
His words “I came to brief Mr. President over the ongoing surrender by insurgents. I think, to me, and to the greater majority of people Borno State, this is a very good development. In the last 12 years thousands of lives were lost, people have completely lost their means of livelihood. We have a total number of over 50,000 orphans and widows, these are official figures, the unofficial figures are more than this, and we were able to cultivate not more than 3% of our total arable land because of the insurgency and right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10% of people of Borno State is not known to all of us, at all. This is a very serious matter and I think the report of the surrendering of the insurgents, to me in particular and to the greater people of Borno State, is a very welcome development. Unless we want to continue with an endless war, I see no reason why we shall reject those that are willing to surrender.
“I came to brief Mr. President on this matter and Mr. President has given my humble-self and the people of Borno State the assurances of his continued support in this direction so, that this matter can be resolved amicably.
“The most important thing is that I, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, the Governor of Borno State, I’ve been in this cycle for a long time. I’m the pioneer Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.
“I’ve been in this for the last 11 or 12 years. I was attacked for more than 40 to 50 times, I know the magnitude of this problem. More than 100,000 people were killed, I’m telling you. We have more than 100,000 orphans now, we have more than 100,000 windows now. Therefore I’m in total support of this ongoing surrender by the insurgents, we’ll support them and those that have surrendered shall be dealt with according to the extant rules and regulations.
“We have international conventions that stipulated how we can handle them. There is no law that clearly stipulated that they should be killed, but we have to be very careful in managing this crisis.”
The governor also said that there are a total of 2,600 surrendered insurgents now in custody, emphasizing that not all of them are criminals.
“We are not unmindful of this issue, it’s not a small issue because we are not just saying that those that have surrendered shall be reintegrated into the society very soon, no. But mind you, among those that have surrendered, some are innocent, that were forcefully conscripted into this programme.
“Some are teenagers, below the ages of 11, 12, who can handle AK-47 and there’s one very important thing that Nigerians need to understand; if this issue of Boko Haram, insurgency, is not resolved, I believe it will never end because it is a generation. Those that came out from the bush you can see one person has two wives three wives in the bush, he’s having 10 children. These children are well trained to behave in such manner. What is this manner? Carrying AK-47 and it’s a generation,” the governor said.
Zulum also dismissed the argument in some quarters that the repentant terrorists were merely pretending so that they would get money from the state government and return to the bush to continue their nefarious activities.
‘Government of Borno State is never contemplating giving a dime for those insurgents in the bush to surrender. No. Anybody who wishes to surrender, then government will now look into the possibility of accepting them, developing a framework for rehabilitating them, while the issue of reintegrating them shall be discussed further,” he said; adding: “Most importantly, the victims shall not be left behind, I want to support the victims. Those whose parents were killed.”