The federal government said yesterday that about 650,000 persons from the north-eastern parts of the country have been displaced by the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect since the insurgents started their gory activities.
Attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN) stated this while speaking at a high-level segment of the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the “recent successes achieved by security forces and the increased level of cooperation at regional and sub-regional level to raise a multi-national force of 8,700 involving Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin by the African Union, with support from Nigeria’s global partners.
“My delegation believes that this initiative offers valuable lessons for the global community. In this regard, I cannot overemphasis the need for increased financial and material support for the multi-national force as well as the internally displaced persons and refugees”, Adoke added.
The AGF recalled the successes achieved over the years through international collaboration within the United Nations system in areas of human trafficking, migration issues, prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the protection of the environment.
He added that there was a need to intensify current initiatives in these and other fields, pledging Nigeria’s support to the Council in this regard.
On the number of persons displaced so far by insurgency, Adoke said, “Nigeria’s experience in combating terrorism and insurgency perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in north-eastern Nigeria and our common borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, clearly demonstrates the relevance and potency of international cooperation and solidarity in tackling this scourge.
According to him, since the insurgency began, close to 650,000 Nigerians have been internally displaced in the afflicted region, and another one million as refugees in neighbouring countries of Cameroun, Chad and Niger.
“This situation has posed grave humanitarian situations in the affected areas including the neighbouring countries,” he revealed.
Nearly 66,000 Nigerian IDPs in Cameroon- UN
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has disclosed that there are nearly 66,000 Nigerian internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying in Cameroon.
This was revealed at the daily briefing in Geneva chaired by director of the UN Information Service, Corinne Momal-Vanian, and attended by the spokespersons for the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Refugee Agency.
In a statement signed by the UN Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, it revealed that “UNHCR Adrian Edwards had revealed that Cameroon’s Far North region had seen a new influx of refugees over the weekend following clashes in northeast Nigeria between regional military forces and insurgents.”
She added that about 16,000 Nigerian refugees were in Cameroon, caught amid ongoing violence in villages along the border.
He revealed that once screening had been completed, those latest movements were expected to bring the total number of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon to nearly 66,000, of whom 41,571 refugees had already been verified by UNHCR.
Adrian said the UNHCR was working with Cameroon to relocate refugees as quickly as possible away from areas of active conflict, to a transit site at Kousseri, which lies 90km from the border and 370km north of Minawao where there was an established refugee camp.
He added that “because of conflict between military forces and insurgents happening on the Cameroonian territory, UNHCR did not have access to border areas where refugees had arrived.”
‘Anti-Boko Haram offensive progressing’
The defence headquarters has said that the operation against Boko Haram, backed by the Multi-national Joint Task Force (JTF), is progressing and achieving its intended goals.
Director of defence information, Maj-Gen Chris Olukolade said the JTF was also adjusting its manoeuvres to counter what seems to be a new Boko Haram fighting strategy of using guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings.
According to Reuters news agency, a latest reports said that the Boko Haram gunmen attacked an island on the Niger side of Lake Chad on Monday, with locals reporting heavy casualties.
“The multi-national Joint Task Force will defend any coalition member against Boko Haram attacks,” he said.
“The offensive on the terrorists is continuing as planned and achieving required results. All the identified cells have been either bombarded or assaulted on the ground, and those operations that have been completed are undergoing cordon-and-search by troops with the view to recovering all arms in their (rebels’) possession, and also apprehending anyone of the rebels who might be hiding, and recovering all arms that may be in their possession,” Olukolade said.
He attributed the recent military successes against Boko Haram to training coupled with adjustment in military tactics.
“This has been the pattern of their operation. Before now, they had decided to adopt the style of ISIS, wanting to hold on to territories. What they were doing [lately] has been more of guerrilla warfare. And we are adjusting our tactics to contain them accordingly,” Olukolade said.