The anti-terror battle of the Federal Government may suffer a setback, it was learnt yesterday.
The Army has raised the alarm that many repentant Boko Haram fighters are backsliding and subverting the war against the insurgents and bandits.
The Theatre Commander of ‘Operation Hadin Kai’, Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa, disclosed that ‘repentant’ sect members, who have surrendered to troops have ulterior motive.
Also, the Federal Government has expressed worry over the activities of terrorists, bandits and other non-state actors using the country’s non-commercial radio frequency spectrum without licence and payment of appropriate fees.
Miffed by the increasing activities of terrorists in the sub-region, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the worsening insecurity could undermine regional integration and stability.
It was also learnt that foreign donors are sustaining the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Maj.-Gen. Musa, disclosed that 20,000 insurgents have laid down arms in the Northeast. The cpmmander, who spoke on the sidelines of the Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja, said the new challenge is what to do with the repented terrorists.
He said: “We have over 20,000 combatants and their families surrendered. This tells you there is something we are doing right. What we do with them after surrendering is our next focus. The expectation is that after all have surrendered, then, everything will fizzle out. But, that is not the case.
“Frankly speaking, for us, this is a good development.
“A lot of people have been thinking and also expressing mixed feelings, if at all the news is true. Of course, there are some insurgents who truly wish to surrender, but we cannot jettison the fact that some of them do have ulterior motives.
“Like I said, to us, this is good and if we follow it through in the right way, then, we may begin to see the end of this insurgency sooner than we actually think.”
Gen. Musa explained why the terror group has remained lethal after the death of its leader, Abubakar Shekau.
He said: “Before Shekau died, they (Boko Haram fighters) pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in the West African Province ISWAP and ISWAP gets its funding from foreign donors. It is the lust for these monies that have further emboldened them. This is why they overran Shekau. These people who are enemies of the nation, who do not want peace in Nigeria are the same people pushing ISWAP too. It has nothing to do with religion or any form of ideology, but purely driven by the quest for money.
The theatre commander dismissed the insinuation that the Nigerian military has been outstretched in the course of fighting the insurgents.
He said: “No group can outstretch the Armed Forces of Nigeria. What people need to understand is, we in the military can easily be identified because we put on uniforms. These guys go on mufti and we cannot just go into a community and start killing everybody. If we have to do this, then, this fight would have ended since.
“But, what about the collateral damage on the part of innocent civilians? If we have to shoot, then, we must target the real trouble makers and not just anyone. This is the problem. They mingle among civilians. This is why it has become so difficult. If it is conventional warfare, we would have finished them a long time ago.”
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Bitrus Bako Nabasu, who spoke in Lagos on the sidelines of a stakeholders’ forum, tagged: ‘Sensitisation on Sustainable Frequency Spectrum Management Development for non-Commercial Radio Frequency Users’, said bandits and terrorist groups using the radio frequency spectrum illegally, threaten national security and interfere in the frequency.
He said: “We are aware that some organisations and institutions that are non-commercial users are making use of the radio frequency illegally, but what baffles government the most is that terrorist groups also use the radio frequency spectrum illegally and they obtain it from online stores.
“Although the ministry has monitoring equipment to monitor those using the radio frequency spectrum illegally, the range of coverage is limited and cannot reach inside the forest and deep territorial waters. However, our monitoring equipment can detect those using the radio frequency illegally within the cities.”
Ghanaian Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, who spoke at the opening of the 47th ordinary session in Abuja, lamented the threat by the terrorists.
She said: “Speaking on the backdrop of continual threat to our region, which could undermine integration agenda and regional stability. Attacks by terrorist and violent extremist groups are increasing across the region, leaving no member state spared as a potential targets.
“In addition to this already difficult situation, is the military takeover in Guinea, after the one in Mali, weakening our community.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the council, the deteriorating security environment in the region is of grave concern from the Sahel region through the Lake Chad basing and beyond.
“Attacks from terrorists and violent extremists have moved with banditry kidnapping, Farmer herder dynamics and transnational organised crime leaving a trail of death and destruction.
“Indeed, the terrorist groups are currently testing border defenses of coastal nations, intending to extend their reach to the member states along the Gulf of Guinea.”
She also expressed the Commission’s worries over military gradual incursion in governance, saying it is a challenge to the community.
Botchway added: “The military coups in the Republic of Mali and Guinea, remain a challenge to us. The Authority has held several extraordinary summits to address this matter. We will examine progress in these two countries.”