17 members of the Boko Haram terrorists group on Monday reportedly surrendered themselves to the Nigerian Military following pledge by the Government of Nigeria to offer amnesty to them.
According to Ahmed Alhassan, one of the 17 terrorists, who joined the sect 4 years ago, they heard about President Muhammadu Buhari’s appeal through the radio at Marcas of Nguma, one of their camps located at the shores of Lake Chad region.
“We have been contemplating to surrender ourselves after we realised that we were being recruited into false movement. What pulled us back was the fear of being caught and killed by either our members or the military.
“But after the announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari on granting amnesty to those who surrender, drop their arms and accept peace, we decided to defy all the fear and eventually came out.
“We also made up our minds to sacrifice our lives in a bid to secure freedom, knowing fully that God will forgive us for attempting to embrace peace and stop the killings,’’ he said.
He added that he was forcefully initiated into Boko Haram by the Mamman Nur’s faction after invading their town in Munguno.
“They gathered all of us and selected some of us, which they said we shall be working for the cause of God. Those who refused were eventually killed.
“Many have been conscripted and recruited, some have spent one and half, some two and some of us have spent four years,” he said.
Alhassan further expressed gratitude to the military for treating them with respect and dignity, urging other members of the sect to embrace the Federal Government amnesty.
“We eat the best of food and sleep in a conductive atmosphere. We are also allowed to interact with some our colleagues. They listen to us and share our pain,” he said.
Another member of the group, Mustapha Umar, who is from the Abubakar Shekau’s faction of the Boko Haram, said he was commanding officer in the sect for 3 years.
He said he decided to lay down his arms because he was already tired of the atrocities being committed under the guise of fighting for the religion of Islam.
“We realised that the group was serving the course of the devil by committing all forms of atrocities. There was a lot of hardship in the camps. Many have been killed by one form of disease or the other.
“I am happy to be out here. The military have been treating us very humanly and I want to ask for forgiveness for all the pain I may have inflicted on the people while fighting for the baseless course,’’ he said.
Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, the Theartre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, who paraded the 17 suspects in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, in his remarks said that the suspects willingly surrendered themselves and renounced their membership to Boko Haram.
“You can see that they are finding it easier to surrender. We have our designated centres where such persons can come out and surrender and it is yielding result,” he said, adding that about 70 Boko Haram suspects surrendered in Munguno and 60 in Bama and many in other places.