The news of the return of 1,400 suspected Boko Haram members into the society in Borno State has attracted ‘worrying’ reactions from some soldiers.
The disappointed soldiers lamented that the government is releasing ‘killers’ that they had previously captured back into the society.
It will be recalled that Naija News earlier published a story that 1,400 repentant Boko Haram suspects have been rehabilitated and released into the society by the military in Borno State under the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ programme.
This was disclosed on Monday by the Borno State Commissioner for Information, Babakura Jato.
“There have been a series of releases. They were released in three tranches. The first set was released during Governor Shettima’s time while two sets have been released under Prof. Zulum.
“The total number of persons released is 1,400. Out of the 1,400, the majority of them are cleared suspects. These were people who were suspected of being members of Boko Haram and it was discovered that they were not.
“The rest are children of Boko Haram or actual Boko Haram members. I cannot give you a breakdown of the figure now for security reasons,” Punch quoted Jato as saying.
However, some soldiers who spoke to The Cable on Tuesday expressed disappointment with the development.
“A lot of soldiers are not happy about this. We were there at the Maimalari barracks when some of these Boko Haram people were released,” one of the soldiers said.
“The authorities are releasing them, but Boko Haram are killing soldiers that they capture. This does not make sense to us at all. We continue to sweep across the bushes to flush these people out, and then the government will release them. Does that not amount to wasted efforts?”
Another soldier said some of those being released are not repentant and always find their way back to the Boko Haram camps.
“You wonder why Boko Haram members are on the increase? When we arrest them and bring them here, some top people would come and start negotiating their release. But, I will tell you some of these so-called suspects are returning to the bush and they were never repentant.”
However, Onyema Nwachukwu, defence headquarters’ spokesperson, denied claims that those being released are unrepentant Boko Haram members.
He added that the release is been done in collaboration with some international civil society organizations, as well as relevant government and security agencies.
“We’ve made some releases, that’s the truth. We should know what the operation is about. But take note, it’s not that we capture Boko Haram suspects and then go back and release them. No,” he said.
“The civil organisations involved in the operation include UNICEF, International Office on Migration (IOM) and relevant government ministries and security agencies. Not left out of the oversight structure of the operation is the Gombe state govt where the DRR facility is located.
“As a testimony to the effectiveness of the Safe Corridor initiative, so far, about 800 ex Boko Haram fighters who would have unleashed unimaginable terror on citizens have been admitted and out of which 287 of them have been successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, with many still undergoing the DRR programme,” he said.