Boko Haram degraded but ‘remnants’ have become bandits ― Buhari

ICRC insists on dialogue to free captives

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said the remaining members of the Boko Haram sect in the North-east region of the country are bandits, “and we will continue to treat them as such.”

The President made the declaration while receiving Mr Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at the presidential villa, Abuja.

According to a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), President Buhari also said that“Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members were still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands.

“That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such,”  he stated.

The President said the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and securing their communities so that they can return home.

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He applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, noting: “The situation of the displaced persons is very pathetic. Some children don’t know where their parents are, neither do they know where they come from.

“We are focusing on education and healthcare, along with rebuilding of infrastructure. The agency formerly under the leadership of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd) and now headed by Major-General Paul Tarfa (retd) is quietly making an impression. We are dedicating lots of resources to the area.”

President Buhari disclosed that great progress has equally been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious.

“How can you kill people, and say ‘God is great.’ It’s either you don’t know that God or you don’t know what you are talking about. God is God of justice. And the people have understood the message well, so recruiting is now difficult for the insurgents,” the President said.

Mr Maurer said Nigeria was the 5th largest operation of ICRC worldwide, and the organization would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.

On the recent killing of two officials in the North-east, he said, “We are shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria.”

The ICRC President said the relationship will be further strengthened with Nigeria, submitting that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, the ICRC boss insisted that the organization remained advocates of engaging in dialogue with all parties in the conflict in the North-East towards the emancipation of captives still held by the insurgents.

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