President Muhammadu Buhari has described the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east region of the country as bandits.
He stated that his administration would continue to treat the insurgents as such as the Federal Government steps up efforts the fight against insurgency in the region.
“Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
The President, who received the President of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr Peter Maurer, on Tuesday in Abuja, added, “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.”
President Buhari explained that the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, and securing their communities so that they could return home.
He applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organisations, saying, “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 General 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.”
The President stressed that great progress has 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.”
In his remarks, Mr Maurer said Nigeria was the fifth largest operation of ICRC worldwide, and the organisation would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.
He, however, condemned the recent killing of two officials of the organisation in the north-east.
“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.
He gave assurance that relationship would 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.”