The North-East has lost over 100,000 people in the 12-year-old insurgency with about 10 per cent of the population of Borno State unaccounted for, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has said.
The Gov. made the claim in a chat with correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Zulum also said there were a total of 2,600 surrendered insurgents now in custody, stressing that not all of them are criminals.
He stated clear that many of the victims are women and young children who had been trained to handle AK47, Zulum assured that they would be subjected to the extant laws of the country.
Speaking, he added that no law prescribed killing of surrendered insurgents, adding that they would be trained for the purpose of reintegration.
He also assured that victims of the insurgency would be taken care of. Speaking on the need to address the issue of insurgency holistically, the governor said he fully supported the surrendering of the insurgents and the effort to resettle them.
When asked about his mission in the Presidential Villa, he said: “I came to brief the President on the ongoing surrender by insurgents. I think, to me, and to the greater majority of people of Borno State, this is a very good development.
“In the last 12 years, thousands of lives were lost and 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 per cent of our total arable land because of the insurgency. Right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10 per cent 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 welcome development,” he said.
It said if this was not done, there is the possibility for insurgents to pass from generation to generation, because of the number of children that had been trained for it.
“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,” he said.
Speaking further, he said having been on the issue for the last 11 to 12 years and as the pioneer commissioner for reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement in Borno State, he was attacked for 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 that have surrendered shall be dealt with according to the extant rules and regulations,” he said.
The Gov. denied that the insurgents were being given money to surrender saying: “Government of Borno State is never contemplating giving a dime for those insurgents in the bush to surrender.”
On the number of those who had surrendered so far, the governor stated: “Right now, we have about 2,600 in custody. But mind you, this number is inclusive of their children and their wives, including their families.”
Zulum said government was working on the details of the surrender programme, denying that it had negative impact on the war against insurgency.