President Muhammadu Buharii yesterday said that the remnants of Boko Haram in the North-east region of the country were bandits, and that they will be continued to be treated as such. President Buhari stated this when he granted audience to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, Mr. Peter Maurer, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are 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 said that government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, securing their communities, so that they can return home. 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 stated that great progress had equally been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious. He said, “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.”
Speaking earlier, 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 relationship will be further strengthened with Nigeria, adding, “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”