Army GOC denies saying repentant Boko Haram member can become President

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The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Div Maiduguri, Major General Bulama Biu, has denied saying Boko Haram members willing to surrender their arms and undergo rehabilitation have a chance of becoming Nigeria’s president.

Biu in an interview with journalists on Saturday said what was best for the insurgents was for them to lay down their arms and undergo deradicalization.

“An ex-Boko Haram member who has laid down his arms and turns away from negativity stands to become the President of this country and take up any position in this country,” Biu said during an interview with journalists in Abuja.

“Why is he wasting his time when he cannot even deliver? But we have appealed to them including their collaborator to see reason to drop their arms as quickly as possible so that we can once again re-occupy our position in Nigeria and Borno State,” he added.

Biu, however, denied the statement and said he was quoted out of context. He said, “in specific, I appealed to Boko Haram insurgents to accept the opportunity provided to them through the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’, to lay down their arms, rejoin the society, reintegrate themselves, be productive, and do better things.”

“I also moved further to say that there are a lot of opportunities for them to gain if they surrender themselves without being confronted.”

“I want to emphatically say that such misinformation is rather unfounded, baseless and at best, mere figment of the authors’ jaundiced imagination.”

Nigeria is one of the five countries most impacted by terrorism in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index. According to the report, ‘Boko Haram and Fulani extremists’ accounted for the largest percentage of deaths. The Bachama extremist group was listed as the third most violent group.

Almost all of the killings and maiming had occurred in the North, most especially in the North-Eastern states of the country.

United Nations Refugee Agency said in May that about 20,000 Nigerians majority of whom were women and children fled violence in the region to the neighbouring Nigeria Republic since April.

In one of the measures to reduce insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari On March 23rd, 2018 promised to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect who are ready to drop their arms and embrace peace.

Buhari mulled the offer while receiving 105 Dapchi secondary schoolgirls and two Dapchi Primary School pupils earlier abducted by the insurgent group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The insurgents had invaded Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018, and abducted 115 girls.

Buhari said the Nigerian government was ready to rehabilitate penitent members of the sect and reintegrate them into the society.

This offer is not the first offered by the Nigerian government.

On Thursday, April 7, 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan made what many saw as a policy somersault when he approved the setting up of a committee to consider proposals for granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect to end its uprising that had then left thousands of people dead since 2009.

In spite of deaths from terrorism declining by 16 percent in 2017, Nigeria is still listed as one of the five countries most impacted by terrorism in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index.

The number of deaths attributed to terrorism in the country fell to 1,532 in 2017 from 1832 in 2016. The decline follows the 63 percent drop in deaths in Nigeria in the preceding year and a 34 percent drop in 2015.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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