Borno: Governor Zulum expresses worry over rise of ISWAP terrorists in some parts of the state, says Boko Haram surrender making impact.
Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, the Governor of Borno State, has voiced grave alarm over the growing presence of terrorists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in several sections of the state, and has urged for immediate security measures to halt their spread.
This was revealed by Zulum on Wednesday, when he received the Senate Committee on Army, led by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, in the Council Chamber of the Government House in Maiduguri on a courtesy visit.
While praising President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the Nigerian Armed Forces, and volunteers for significant achievements in Borno, Zulum expressed concern about the ISWAP’s growing presence in some sections of the state, particularly in southern Borno.
“Borno State has started witnessing the gradual return of peace to the State. This will not be possible without the support of the Federal Government. The Service Chiefs are giving us the desired cooperation. Indeed the current Theater Commander and the GOCs have been giving their cooperation.”
Zulum cautioned, however, that ISWAP was threatening to undo the gains made.
“Honestly speaking, we have to do something about the operations of ISWAP in Borno State, if nothing is done to check them and chase them out, it may be bad not only for people of the North-East, but the entire Nation at large” Zulum warned.
The Governor added that “ISWAP’s fighters are better armed, better equipped, more intelligent and more sophisticated than Boko Haram, and they grow spontaneously. Hence the the need to pursue the ISWAP now” he said.
Governor Zulum also mentioned the recent surrender of hundreds of repentant Boko Haram fighters, which he claimed had already brought some stability to the region, particularly in the agricultural sector.
Farmers have expanded access to farms by 700 percent since thousands of rebels surrendered, he said, adding that he favors the sustained use of military warfare and a political approach to disarmament, deradicalization, and safe reintegration.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, in his remark said they were at the Government House to especially thank Governor Zulum for his assistance to the Army in restoring peace to the state and nation.
“Your Excellency, this is a Senate committee on Nigerian Army, and we are here on oversight, and to thank Your Excellency for the support that you have been giving to the Army, which they themselves (Army) have acknowledged” Ndume said.
Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South and Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hassan Mohammed Gusau, Senator Kola Balogun from Oyo South Senatorial district, and Senator Bulus K. Amos from Gombe South were all among the Senate Committee’s delegation.
Brig. Gen. Sani Suleiman, Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Navy Captain Shehu Mohammed Tasiu, Deputy Director Defense Liaison to the National Assembly, Lawal Sani, Clerk of the Committee, and Akikomi Baba Tunde Johnson, Deputy Clerk, were also present during the Committee’s visit.
Since Abubakar Shekau’s death, ISWAP’s membership has grown significantly. This was due to the fact that a large number of Boko Haram fighters who had previously served under Shekau had defected to ISWAP.
The Nigerian army has stated that the insurgency has been mostly defeated on numerous occasions, while downplaying any losses.
Soldiers have been targeted by rebels who ambush them in recent months.
Since the beginning of last year, hundreds of soldiers and officers have reportedly been killed.