Repentant B/Haram members raid police station in Borno

  • Attack immigration, NDLEA checkpoints
  • We repelled them – Police
  • No comment for now – Borno Government
  • It calls for a review of the deradicalization program – Expert

Some remorseful Boko Haram insurgents stormed a police station in Maiduguri on Tuesday evening in a bid to release their colleagues previously arrested for alleged drug offences, witnesses told the Daily Trust yesterday.

However, Borno State Police Officer-in-Charge Kenneth Daso, who confirmed that an incident had occurred at the police station, said the attackers were repelled by officers on duty.

Daso said the security breach was announced by a police operation.

He said: “On April 30, 24 at about 5:45 pm, during a joint operation raid on the Kasuwar Fara, following an intelligence report that some drug traffickers, smokers, repentant insurgents and Boko Haram insurgents are indulging in nefarious activities, eight persons were arrested . including seven men and one woman in that operation with 476 grams of illegal substances.

“As you are aware, such activities have been banned in the area by the state government since last year.

“A few hours after the arrest, some unscrupulous persons, the so-called repentant Boko Haram, dressed in military attire, attempted to invade our police station in Ibrahim Taiwo but were immediately repulsed.

“They then proceeded to attack and burnt the Nigerian Immigration Service and NDLEA checkpoints after the welcome at the city gate,” he said.

ASP Kenneth said a serious investigation is currently underway to unravel those who were behind the acts.

They released some people – Witnesses

However, some eyewitnesses told one of our correspondents that the attackers, dressed in military camouflage and carrying swords, forcibly entered the police station and took away some suspects.

“About 20 of the attackers entered the police station and escaped with some of the detained members.

“They left some police officers injured; they also went on a rampage and attacked passers-by with swords, before reinforcements from the CRACKS team arrived,” he said.

Another witness said police officers at the station did their best to repel the attackers but were repressed.

“Some police officers took to their heels but returned when reinforcements arrived. We were told that the actual suspects could not be released, only a few people at the counter managed to escape.

“It was a sad incident,” he said.

Residents in the area said they feared the development and said the incident was a clear indication that Maiduguri is no longer safe.

Fanta Modu, a restaurant owner in the area, urged the government to reconsider its approach to issues surrounding the federal government’s deradicalization exercise.

“I was relatively young when followers of Mohammed Yusuf (founder of Boko Haram) launched simultaneous attacks on Maiduguri in 2009. They also attacked police headquarters at the time.

“Honestly, the recent event reminds me of that terrible incident. I believe that the so-called repentant members of Boko Haram have not yet fully converted. They are not well refined because if they are fully reintegrated into society, why would they go back to drugs to the extent that they had the audacity to attack security posts?” she asked.

We are yet to be informed – Borno Government

Contacted last night, Abdulrahman Bundi, one of Governor Babagana Zulum’s spokespersons, said they were not yet aware of the matter and therefore could not comment on it.

“I just read it on social media. There is not enough information, but I assure you that the government will comment on the matter after we get proper information about what happened,” he said.

Daily Trust recalled that on March 5, 2021, Governor Zulum said the deradicalization of repentant Boko Haram members “is not working.”

Zulum, who spoke at the North-East Governors’ Forum meeting in Bauchi, said the initiative needs to be reviewed as some ex-Boko Haram members only come to spy on communities and then return to join the group Close.

“It has been confirmed that the concept of deradicalization or Safe Corridor is not working as expected. Very often, those who have gone through the Safe Corridor initiative, or have been deradicalized, usually go back and rejoin the terrorist group after carefully studying the various security arrangements in their host communities during the reintegration process.

“So the idea of ​​de-radicalization, as currently implemented, needs to be revised because the main goals and the underlying objectives behind the initiative are not being achieved,” he said.

The governor advised at the time that the best option is to immediately prosecute the insurgents in accordance with the Terrorism Act.

However, at a recent event, Borno State Commissioner for Women and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, said that only about 5,000 of the over 100,000 repentant Boko Haram members were genuine insurgents.

Zuwaira made this known while presenting a paper titled ‘Borno Model’ at an event commemorating the International Day of Peace 2023 organized by an NGO, Peace Ambassador for Humanitarian Assistance and Empowerment (PACHE).

She said: “Contrary to public fears that 100,000 were insurgents, only about 5,000 are actual fighters. Most of the others are farmers, women and children held hostage by the insurgents.

“Many of them are victims held by the insurgents,” she said.

She said those being deradicalized and reintegrated back into their communities do not include insurgents.

“We will not release the rebels. We have data on the whereabouts of every person who has been released,” she said.

Thousands of repentant terrorists released back into ‘communities’

Daily Trust reports that on January 24, 2024, the Chief of Defense Staff, General Christopher Musa, said that in six years, 1,935 Boko Haram terrorists were released back into communities from Bulumkutu camp in Maiduguri, Borno State.

He said the insurgents were released between 2016 and 2022.

Musa, who was represented by the Director of Training, Defense Headquarters, Rear Admiral Daupreye Matthew, said this while delivering a lecture at the opening of the National Security Course on ‘Psychological Operations and Strategic Communications’ in Abuja.

“Also, between 2016 and 2022, 1,543 repentant terrorists graduated from Mallam Sidi Camp in Gombe State.

“Between July 2021 and May 4, 2022 alone, no fewer than 51,828 terrorists and their family members surrendered, of which 13,360 were fighters,” the CDS said.

Musa, however, said the military had increased the use of hard and soft power in counter-insurgency operations to contain the emerging and changing nature of adversaries.

He said: “The use of non-kinetic efforts under Operation Safe Corridor led to the surrender of over 2,000 Boko Haram members between 2016 and 2017. 67 percent of those who surrendered belonged to the Abubakar Shekau faction of the insurgents.

“So far, 106,000 terrorists and their family members have surrendered in the Northeast.”

We need to review the deradicalization program – Security expert

When contacted, a security analyst, Senator Iroegbu, said the entire program for the reintegration of Boko Haram insurgents needs to be re-evaluated.

“The danger now is that what this repentant Boko Haram did has vindicated those who opposed the reintegration program in the first place and amplifies their voices.

“And this has jeopardized the entire program itself because it casts doubt on whether these people are truly remorseful? And it also jeopardized the chances of those who would actually want to join the program and forge a new path.

“It is a call to those implementing the program to evaluate it and know whether it should be continued or not,” he said.