Borno State governor Babagana Zulum has disclosed that about 10 per cent of Borno people are unaccounted for as a result of the protracted insurgency in the state.
He said that over 100,000 indigenes of the state have been killed since the outbreak of the insurgency.
Zulum disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, he discussed the report of the surrendering of insurgents with the president, saying he did not see any reason why those who surrendered should be rejected.
The governor stated that already 2,600 bandits including their wives and children have surrendered and are in the custody of the state.
He said among those that surrendered were innocent people who were forcefully conscripted to join the Boko Haram sect, while some are teenagers.
The governor, who said that he had been attacked by the insurgents about 50 times, also promised to support the victims of the insurgents, those that their parents were killed.
He said, “I came to brief Mr President over the ongoing surrender by insurgents. I think, to me, and the greater majority of people of Borno State, this is a very good development.
“In the last 12 years thousands of lives were lost, people have completely lost their means of livelihood. We have a total number of over 50,000 orphans and widows, these are official figures, the unofficial figures are more than this, and we were able to cultivate not more than three percent of our total arable land because of the insurgency and right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10 percent of people of Borno State is not known to all of us at all.
“This is a very serious matter and I think the report of the surrendering of the insurgents, to me in particular and to the greater people of Borno State, is a very welcomed development. Unless we want to continue with an endless war, I see no reason why we shall reject those that are willing to surrender.
“I came to brief Mr President on this matter and Mr President has given my humble self and the people of Borno State the assurances of his continued support in this direction, so that this matter can be resolved amicably.
“Deepening internal democracy and social cohesion is a prelude to sustainable peace in any nation. Therefore, we’re not unaware of the negative effects of this programme, but that is why we want to see the involvement of the federal government on a large scale.
“We are going back to Maiduguri to have wider consultations with the victims themselves, the traditional rulers and the generality of the people of Borno State, the major stakeholders, including the Nigerian Army, the civilian JTF and others, to develop a framework that will ensure the sustainability of this programme.
“We are not unmindful of this issue, it’s not a small issue because we are not just saying that those that have surrendered shall be reintegrated into the society very soon, no.
“But mind you, among those that have surrendered, some are innocent, that were forcefully conscripted into this programme.
“Some are teenagers, below the ages of 11, 12, who can handle AK-47 and there’s one very important thing that Nigerians need to understand; if this issue of Boko Haram, insurgency, is not resolved, I believe it will never end because it is a generation.”
On the way forward on the matter, Prof Zulum said, “The way forward is that we shall immediately call a stakeholders’ meeting in Borno State, comprising of the minister of defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the attorney-general, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and most importantly, the NIA also because we have some certain foreign involvement in the matter, the traditional rulers and especially the victims, so that we can come up with any solutions, far-reaching recommendations that can be programmed in a structured manner, to ensure amicable resolution of this issue.”
He further explained “I’ve been in this… for the last 11 or 12 years. I was attacked more than 40 to 50 times, I know the magnitude of this problem. More than 100,000 people were killed, I’m telling you. We have more than 100,000 orphans now, we have more than 100,000 widows now. Therefore I’m in total support of this ongoing surrender by the insurgents, we support them and those who have surrendered shall be dealt with according to the extant rules and regulations.”