Remnants of Boko Haram in the North-east region of the country are bandits who will be treated continuously as such, President Muhammadu Buhari said in Abuja.
Buhari, who spoke at State House, Abuja, while receiving Mr Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, and securing their communities so that they could return home.
“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,” Buhari said in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) Femi Adesina.
While commending the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, he said, “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.”
Buhari said ‘great progress’ had been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious.
“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,” he also said.
Mr Maurer, who said Nigeria was the 5th largest operation of ICRC worldwide, stated that the organization would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.
He said the recent killing of its two officials in the North-east shook the organization but not discouraged.
“We are shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria,” he said.
The ICRC President, who said relationship would be further strengthened with Nigeria, added that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”