Members of the Boko Haram sect who surrender will get free passage, the army said yesterday.
Acting Brigade Commander of the 21 Armoured Brigade in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, Col. Ibrahim Yusuf, also said that the army would do everything to protect residents from attacks. He spoke in Maiduguri.
He said: “I want to assure you that we will give a safe passage to members of the sect, including foot soldiers, ready to surrender. “Those involved can either surrender themselves at any military outpost or go to their ward or district head. “Let me say again that all those who surrender will not be killed, but will be given safe passage,” he said He added that new measures to counter Boko Haram attacks on civilians had been introduced but he did not state the measures.
“I want to assure you that the army is doing everything possible to ensure that no civilian is attacked by Boko Haram in the state because we are here to ensure the safety of all Nigerians,” Col. Yusuf said.
He linked the recent attacks on travellers and villagers by suspected Boko Haram militants on highways to frustration.
The acting commander said “most times, the Boko Haram members go to remote villages to kill innocent civilians in cold blood because they have been frustrated by the army”.
“They cannot operate in the open, so they vent their anger on innocent civilians.”
Col.Yusuf, who said the military was equal to the task, noted that “we cannot be taken by surprise by the Boko Haram; the recent attacks are nothing but signs of weakness.
“We are also evolving strategies to make sure that we prevent future attacks, no matter how small.”
It also denied reports that an ex-officer who was purported to have led the attack in Damaturu on Thursday night was arrested.
The spokesman of the 3 Division Special Operation Battalion, Damaturu Cpt. Eli Lazarus, in an sms, said: “The story that the Army arrested an ex-Colonel who led Yobe Boko Haram attacks is absolute falsehood. Also, the purported arrest of a truck containing uniforms and arms is also not true. ”
Capt. Eli said: “We did not lose any of our armoured vehicles to Boko Haram. All our machines are intact.”
Damaturu, the state capital, is bouncing back in the aftermath of the black Thursday.
Church services were successful in the metropolis, but with low turnout.
Normalcy has also returned to the metropolis as many shops were open, with residents making brisk purchase to beat the 4pm curfew dateline.
The Borno government is to re-build about 200 houses destroyed last week in Kawuri village of Konduga Local Government Area by suspected insurgents.
Deputy Governor Zannah Mustapha gave this indication yesterday when he visited the village. He said the government would compensate traders who lost their shops during the attack.
Mustapha directed the Konduga Local Government Caretaker Committee to prepare a list of all those affected.
He said that since attacks by insurgents had become a daily affair in remote areas, the affected communities must form vigilante groups to defend themselves.
“I am here to condole with the community over last week’s attack by suspected Boko Haram militants.
“I want to appeal to all those who suffered losses to take it as an act of God, because it is only Him who gives or takes away.
” Communities who are vulnerable to this kind of attack must begin to introduce a kind of community policing to prevent future attacks.
“What I am saying is that individuals must come out to form vigilante groups to defend themselves against attacks.
“The best form of security is community policing. People must be ready to fight and defend themselves against Boko Haram, through the formation of vigilante groups,” he said.
While promising that the government would collaborate with security agencies to strengthen security in the area, Mustapha urged the community to copy the experience of Maiduguri, the state capital, which used to be the stronhold of the insurgents.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about 18 persons were injured after suspected insurgents attacked the community last week, destroying about 200 houses, 50 shops and many vehicles.
Source: Radio Biafra.