Over 95 per cent of die-hard Boko Haram commanders have been killed either through military operations or infighting between the warring factions.
The Special Adviser to the Borno State government on Security Affairs, Brig. Gen. Ishaq Abdullahi (rtd) made the revelation in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust in Maiduguri yesterday.
Daily Trust had earlier reported how more than 90, 000 Boko Haram fighters and their families surrendered to the Borno State government in the last 17 months after initiating peace dialogue with the fighters.
According to him, some unrepentant Amirs have eliminated over 300 insurgents and their families who were coming out of Sambisa Forest to frustrate the ongoing dialogue to bring a lasting peace process in the state. He said: “The advantage we have in this peace dialogue is the death of the late Abubakar Shekau, the political will as well as the willingness of the people to forgive.
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“We are so lucky that over 95 per cent of Boko Haram die-hard commanders are dead. It makes it easy for us to speak with them and persuade them to drop their weapons to embrace peace.
“I must say this infighting between Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram fighters has helped us, but mostly importantly the death of commanders played a key role in our success.”
He attributed the success to the fervent prayers of Borno people and the political will of the current administration in the state.
“I just have to say this, the people of Borno had prayed seriously, I hold the opinion that it is their prayers that God accepted in this way. In fact, most of these people, the moment they came out, they would say we did not know why we were fighting.
“It amazed me most of the time when I listened to them. It has gotten to a certain time that when they see my call in Sambisa Forest, they would be confused.
“They warned that nobody should pick my calls or be eliminated in Sambisa. They actually eliminated more than 300 fighters and their families who were coming out. Just last week, they killed three commanders and their families who were about to escape. It is sad to hear that, but this is to tell you what we are doing.
“So, any surrender from Boko Haram you see in the camp now is a risk to their lives. In fact, there was one that was coming out and he said ‘sir, pray for me’, so, it is 50- 50 for them. It is so bad that the commanders are killing the children, women and physically challenged people to instill fear in them.
“Last week, there was a video where they wore red clothes, they were Amirs that have accepted to come out, but unfortunately, they were eliminated to instill fear in those who are willing to surrender,” Ishaq added.