By Hamza Suleiman
Maiduguri – The Borno State Government on Thursday said it received 94 persons who escaped from Boko Haram captivity in the fridges of the Lake Chad.
Malam Isa Gusau, the Special Assistant, Media and Strategies to Gov. Babagana Zulum, disclosed this in a statement in Maiduguri.
Isa said that the victims, 37 adult males, 17 adult females and 40 children were rescued by the troops of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) during major offensive against the insurgents in the Lake Chad.
He said that the MNJTF Commander, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Yusuf, handed over the victims to the Borno government.
Isa quoted him as saying that “some of the captives voluntarily surrendered to the Headquarters Sector 1 of the MNJTF in far North Cameroon, while the women and children were rescued.’’
According to Yusuf, while the military welcomed non-kinetic approach to the war, it also warned that its operations will continue.
The commander said some of those who surrendered would be investigated to ascertain their relationship with the terrorists.
“This is a strong indication of success because, in counter insurgency operations success is measured not just by the number of insurgents that we kill, but as well the numbers of those that are surrendering as well as a reduction in their recruitment base.
“So, obviously this is a success indicator. It is because of the multinational nature of the operations involving Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. We operate seamlessly and that is why whether they surrender in Nigeria or they surrender in Cameroon, or Niger, it is the same thing for us.
“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, so it is part of our mandate,’’ Yusuf said.
The Borno Commissioner for Justice, Kakashehu Lawan, received the victims on behalf of the state government.
“The state government is going to profile, debrief, deradicalise and reintegrate the escapees to live a normal life with their families.
“Those profiled as ex-fighters would be sent to Nigerian military’s `operation safe corridor’, while the rescued women will undergo stages of counseling before they are debriefed.
“We received a report that a number of our citizens are here 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, to ascertain how many of them are indigene of Borno. How many are fighters, how many are not fighters, how many women and children.
“Secondly, having identified the number of fighters and non-fighters, women and children, we will 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, we will liaise with `operation safe corridor’ and transfer them there with a view to deradicalising them,’’ Lawan said.