Former Boko Haram fighters who have surrendered to the Nigerian government and are kept at various camps within Maiduguri are protesting their long stay in the camps.
The protesting ex-fighters are those kept at the Maiduguri transit camp within the metropolis. This protest, according to sources is the fourth time the ex-fighters are protesting on their prolonged stay in confinement.
According to a source among the security personnel guarding the camp, the ex-fighters demanded that the government either release them into society or find a way to engage them as they are said to be tired of being idle for months in the camp.
The former Boko Haram fighters said they have been kept in the camp for about four months without doing anything. They said they have been separated from their wives – with some having three, four wives.
During the protest, the surrendered terrorists destroyed public infrastructures in the camp, a source disclosed to The PUNCH on Thursday.
According to the same source, some of the former terrorists housed in other camps within the town are already escaping into society without the permission of the authorities.
“Some of them in other camps are escaping from the camp. They are running out of the camps after getting tired of being in the camp without doing anything and the government has done nothing to stop the escape,” the source noted.
It would be recalled that since the clash between factions of the terrorist groups led to the death of a factional leader, Abubakar Shekau some months ago, the former fighters, their wives and children, came out of the bush and surrendered to the Nigerian Government in their thousands and have been kept in different camps within Maiduguri after profiling them by the Nigerian military.
“Since their surrender, the government has been feeding them and giving them N10,000 as allowances every month. On the latest protest, the ex-fighters were being given some of these basic necessities but some of them did not get the items as such they began to protest leading to chaos in the camp. This is besides the phones, clothing and other basic amenities that are made available to them in the camps,” another source within the security circle in Maiduguri confided in The PUNCH.
However, the Commissioner of Women Affairs in Borno State, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, while reacting to the incident dismissed the story as false, saying nothing of such nature ever happened in the transit camp which is also known as Hajj camp.
“You know I have been out of town for some time, so when I went to the camp today, the former fighters got excited when they saw me and started jumping in jubilation chanting ‘mama mama mama’ and nothing more.
“They didn’t destroy any government property and they did not revolt or protest in any way,” Zuwaira Gambo stated.