Repentant Boko Haram terrorists are returning to Sambisa and here is why


BY YUNUSA BUNU, JUNE 23, 2022 | 04:24 PM

Within the last one year, at least 60, 000 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered to the Nigerian authorities.

Of these, many are from the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, who was killed May last year, in the Sambisa Forest.

The massive surrender is widely celebrated and received as the last vestige of the terrorists’ reign of terror.

Despite resistance by Nigerians and particularly victims of the crisis, the Nigerian government was at the end able to court the understanding of citizens to support the process.

They are thus received in their droves and enrolled in rehabilitation programs, under the control of relevant government agencies.

Many still held their reservations, questioning the terrorists’ motives.

It now appears that their reservations have been confirmed.

In the last few weeks, a few of them who were reintegrated into the communities after successful rehabilitation programs have been sneaking back to Sambisa, our investigations have shown.

YERWA EXPRESS NEWS can confirm that at least ten have made attempts of sneaking back to the forest, to get back to their former ways.

On their way, five of them were killed by the Boko Haram, who considered them as traitors and no longer part of them.

A village head, into whose hands the repentant members are put, told YERWA EXPRESS NEWS anonymously that the ‘ex-terrorists’ are going back to their former enclaves for various reasons.

After their rehab, the authorities handed them over to the bulama (village head in Kanuri) of their respective villages or communities.

One of our sources, who is a bulama of a particular community in Konduga, speaking to our reporter in confidence said the trend appears to be the same in most of the other villages.

In his case, he attributed the cause to hunger, rather than the desire to go back to their former ways.

'Ask every bulama, there are at least ten people under his control who have gone back to Sambisa on the basis of hunger.

'For instance, here in Konduga, when you go into the IDP camp, you will find out that the IDPs have a meal card for receiving food and non-food items every month from the government or other nongovernmental organizations.’

He explained that most of the ‘rehabilitated’ ex-fighters are not receiving regular food because they do not have the meal tickets.

One of the reintegrated fighters in an IDP camp in Konduga Local Government Area, whose identity we are withholding based on editorial discretion, confirmed the situation.

He said when they were at the rehabilitation center at the Hajj Camp in Maiduguri, one of the centers where the rehab is going on, they used to receive enough food and regular care from the government.

'But not here in the camp, we struggle to get what to eat.'

Another bulama in Mandarari IDP Camp in Konduga also said 'yes it is true that some of them are returning back to the Sambisa Forest mainly because of hunger.’

Our reporter, in an effort to confirm the truth, sneaked into the camp to identify and speak to many sources.

He confirmed the killing of the five ‘ex-fighters’ who attempted to return to their former den, which actually took place in May.

‘In the last ten days of Ramadan, five of them on their way back to Sambisa were killed by Boko Haram, their former colleagues.

'We conducted their funeral prayers here in Konduga. Not only them, others decided to go into the bush to cut firewood and sell it in town as a means to livelihood.

'Unfortunately, three of them were caught and slain by by Boko Haram in the bush,’ we learned from the source.

YERWA EXPRESS NEWS identified the five people as Abba Mallam Modu, Awana Ladi, Ibn Kathir Angola, Bashir Mallam Mai, Abba Jogolgolo, B. K. Mai Sanda, Modu Mala Kiriya and Ibrahim.

Similarly, Yagana Jidda and Yakaka Waijoro who came out of Sambisa a few months ago were also killed by the terrorists while searching for firewood in the surrounding bushes.

A similar situation is confirmed to have been in Rann, headquarters of Kala-Balge Local Government Area.

'There are many who found their way back to Sambisa because they were not given meal cards/tickets like other IDPs collecting food,' a humanitarian aid worker who is not authorized to speak to the press disclosed.

According to the source, they usually give an excuse that they will be going to see their relatives in Damboa, Mafa or Gwoza to leave the camp, after which they sneak back to their former enclaves.

It appears that the ‘repentant’ terrorists realized that life in the Sambisa was cheaper for them.

It is also obvious that they want to be fully catered for by the government, even without working hard.

Understandably, Sambisa is fertile, thus supports the cultivation of various food crops, with little or no effort.

Livestock, which the terrorists steal from locals and grow in the forest, is also relatively cheaper for them.

The ‘repentant’ terrorists appear to expect the situation to be the same or more outside of the forest, despite obvious competitiveness over everything.

In a visit to Borno last month, Gov. Babagana Umara Zulum has appealed to António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, to help the Nigerian government in the rehabilitation and management of over 60,000 of the repentant persons.

Many more of them are at the risk of returning to their former dens, especially if an immediate action is not taken.

Appeal for support

Conflict Reporting is dangerous and risky. Our reporters constantly face life-threatening challenges, sometimes surviving ambushes, kidnap attempts and attacks by the whiskers as they travel and go into communities to get authentic and firsthand information. But we dare it every day, nonetheless, in order to keep you informed of the true situation of the victims, the trends in the conflicts and ultimately help in peace building processes. But these come at huge cost to us. We are therefore appealing to you to help our cause by donating to us through any of the following means. You can also donate working tools, which are even more primary to our work. We thank you sincerely as you help our cause.

Alternatively, you can also email us on or message us
via +234 803 931 7767