From Ikenna Emewu, Magnus Eze, Abuja and Paul Orude, Bauchi
Brushing aside recent attacks by Boko Haram, the Federal Government insisted yesterday that the insurgents have been dislodged from the North East.
Besides, despite government’s insistence that Boko Haram insurgents have been considerably degraded by the coordinated and unrelenting efforts of the military, Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would not return to their respective communities in a haste.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the minister disclosed they could only return when the on-going process of replacing military occupation with civilian occupation was concluded.
“It is true that nobody will want to stay in IDP camps forever. IDP camps are not ideal, but, until we finish conclusively, not just to reconstruct but also, the on-going process of replacing military occupation with civilian occupation. We are now in the phase where the military is yielding ground to the police; to the civil defence, to Immigration, to Customs so that we can re-establish full life in the liberated areas.”
Alhaji Mohammed, who said Boko Haram had been dislodged from their occupied territories with thousands of their captives set free, also reiterated that the administration had in the last nine months succeeded in galvanising neighbouring countries and the global community, including major powers, towards the defeat of insurgency and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the communities and population most affected by terrorism.
He explained that the recent spate of suicide bombings and attacks on highly vulnerable communities in the North-east by terrorists did not mean the resurgence of insurgency but was mere antics of a drowning group. “That they operate in few local governments does not equate to holding and controlling territories.
“The fact that terrorists are dispersed into the community is often followed by an upsurge of terror attacks in the form of suicide bombing and sabotage of critical facilities. Activities during this period are often carried out within population and against soft targets or vulnerable groups. There is often apprehension in the community that terrorism is getting worse, even though, in reality, insurgency has been weakened as a cohesive terror force. This is the current phase of insurgency in the country”, he said.
In Bauchi State, the governor’s wife, Hajia Hadiza Mohammed Abdulahi Abubakar and founder of the Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment and Peace Initiative (BSWEEP) has appealed to Nigerians to assist the IDPs affected by the Boko Haram crisis in the region.
Hajia Abubakar made the appeal on Tuesday while presenting food items to IDPs at the Development Exchange Centre (DEC), Bauchi.
The governor’s wife said the gesture was parts of efforts to give the IDPs a sense of belonging and called for concerted steps to be taken to integrate them into the society.
She said government alone cannot be left to handle the issues of IDPs and the less privileged individuals the society and called on well to do people, well meaning individuals and organisations to assist the IDPs and the less privileged.