Contrary to the claim by Nigeria’s army chief, the Boko Haram terror group still exist, and operate, in North-eastern Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
Mr Buhari, however, said the terror group “has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands.”
Mr Buratai had said in May that Boko Haram had been defeated and Nigerian forces were now battling an “international criminal gang known as Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).”
ISWAP is a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, the terror group in Nigeria whose activities have caused over 20,000 deaths since 2009.
Apart from Mr Buratai, a lieutenant-general, other officials of the Buhari adminstration have made different claims about the group being ‘defeated’, ‘technically defeated’ or ‘decimated.’
Although Nigerian and allied forces have largely limited the terror group to three North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the Boko Haram are still able to attack civilian and military targets killing hundreds of people in 2019.
Mr Buhari’s latest comment on the Boko Haram was made Tuesday when he played host to Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Details of the president’s statement were contained in a statement by Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina.
Read the full statement by Mr Adesina below.
President Muhammadu Buhari says remnants of Boko Haram in the North-east region of the country are bandits, “and we will continue to treat them as such.”
The president spoke Tuesday at State House, Abuja, while receiving Mr Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
According to President Buhari, “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands. That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such.”
The president said the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, securing their communities, so that they can return home.
He applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, noting: “The situation of the displaced persons is very pathetic. Some children don’t know where their parents are, neither do they know where they come from.
“We are focusing on education and healthcare, along with rebuilding of infrastructure. The agency formerly under the leadership of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd) and now headed by Major-General Paul Tarfa (retd) is quietly making an impression. We are dedicating lots of resources to the area.”
President Buhari disclosed that great progress has equally been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious.
“How can you kill people, and say ‘God is great.’ It’s either you don’t know that God, or you don’t know what you are talking about. God is God of justice. And the people have understood the message well, so recruiting is now difficult for the insurgents,” the president said.
Mr Maurer said Nigeria was the 5th largest operation of ICRC worldwide, and the organization would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.
On the recent killing of two officials in the North-east, he said: “We are shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria.”
The ICRC president said relationship will be further strengthened with Nigeria, submitting that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”