*Notes it’s rules of engagement to treat them well after surrendering
*Says Chief of Army Staff wants speedy end to terror war
*ISWAP has embarked on massive recruitment, says army spokesman
By Kingsley Omonobi
The Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Major Gen. Christopher Musa, has assured Nigerians and the international community expressing apprehension over the massive surrendering of Boko Haram terrorists that the insurgents would not go unpunished for crimes committed, saying troops were focused, vigilant and on the alert.
“Nobody will just accept thousands of surrendering Boko Haram terrorists who have committed atrocities, take them in and say go, your sins are forgiven.
“Definitely, we are not taking anything for granted; we remain focused. Part of our training and part of our laws in rules of engagements is that even when you are fighting somebody and he surrenders, you cannot shoot him and when you get him, you have to treat him well, you will give him shelter just like any other person.
“But most people don’t really understand, they look at them and said we are pampering them. No, we are just doing what we are supposed to do but the law will naturally take its course. Nobody will take them in afterwards and say go, no, it doesn’t work that way,’’ he said.
Speaking with a team of journalists from Army headquarters at the Theatre Command headquarters in Maiduguri, Gen Musa said: “The military has no power to prosecute the insurgents rather than to profile them and investigate them before handing them over to the necessary authorities for appropriate sanctions on the extent of offences committed as stipulated in the extent laws.
“A lot of innocent lives have been lost and developmentally, the region has gone backwards many years and it will take a long time before it can recover. It is important that we get this straight up, so we can start with rebuilding efforts.
‘’Sometimes when you discuss with some of the insurgents that have surrendered, they tell you they don’t even understand how they are surrendering and are coming out in droves.
“Now, it behoves on all of us to put all hands on the table and I am sure that is why the name of the operation was changed from Lafiya Dole to Hadin Kai to ensure that for you to be on the field and achieve success, you need everybody to be on board, both members of the military, civilians, the locals because it is within the locals that the insurgents sneak in.
“So, if you are able to get your locals on your side, it will make it very difficult for them to move and that is why what we are doing is very important. I want to say the media has been wonderful, we receive positive results and we know that nothing in life is 100 per cent because you will have people that will support, you have people that will not also support you, it is understandable, that is because i s part of life.
‘’We will always insist that we do the right thing and we also take it down because not everybody perceives what is going on, not everybody understands what is going on but it is our duty to remain focused until we achieve our aim.
“That’s why we were able to talk to the governor and advised him to call the stakeholders meeting and stakeholders meeting was held about three weeks ago and every stakeholder in Borno State was invited, from the media and business, victims all from the medical. Everybody came to the hall and we discussed – ullamas, the imams, from CAN and we talked to ourselves truthfully.
“The media is also a partner in progress in every society and we don’t take it for granted because the local media here has been very helpful. We tell them that we will not lie to you, whatever question you have, whatever doubt they have, we will clarify with them and then let them know what is really going on.
“Sometimes, if operation is going on, we definitely cannot tell you, so we don’t compromise the operations because in the long run, we are all working towards success of the country.”
Earlier in his remarks, Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, said the Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP, had embarked on a massive recruitment of members.
Nwachukwu, who called on the media to help block the recruitment, also asked members of the public to be on the lookout within their environment.
He said: “I will like to mention that the ISWAP, very recently, having been depleted by the surrendering of their members, as well as conflict between them, has embarked on what I will call a massive recruitment drive and I consider it very important to engage the media to block this recruitment.
“The Boko Haram insurgents have been surrendering. People have questioned the authenticity of the surrendering of these insurgents and why they are surrendering at this time.”