Boko Haram: North East now ‘post-conflict’, says Buhari

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Boko Haram: North East now ‘post-conflict’, says Buhari
Boko Haram: North East now ‘post-conflict’, says Buhari

Nigeria ’s remote northeast is in a “post- conflict stabilisation phase ”, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday , despite persistent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents.

The Islamist insurgency has devastated the region since 2009, leaving at least 20 ,000 dead , displacing more than 2 .6 million others and triggering a wider humanitarian crisis.

Buhari , his military commanders and government have repeatedly insisted for several years that the jihadists were on the verge of defeat , despite frequent evidence to the contrary .

But his latest statement goes further as it implies a total end to hostilities.

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Addressing troops in the garrison town of Monguno , some 140 kilometres ( 87 miles ) from the Borno state capital , Maiduguri , Buhari said Boko Haram fighters were surrendering “willingly ”.

“It’ s evident that we are in a post-conflict stability phase , which has been made possible by the good work of our armed forces ,” he added .

Former military ruler Buhari came to power three years ago on a promise to defeat Boko Haram, which is aligned to the Islamic State group and threatens security in the Lake Chad region.

But while there have been clear military gains since a counter -insurgency was launched in early 2015 , suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians .

Last month, 43 people were killed in a wave of suicide attacks in the town of Damboa , 90 kilometres southwest of Maiduguri . Soldiers and civilians have also been killed in Niger and Chad .

The United Nations said in a progress report of its operations in Nigeria this year to May 31 that “ large-scale displacements” of people were still a weekly occurrence.

“In the past seven months, since hostilities intensified in the northeast , over 130 , 000 people have been displaced , sometimes for the second or third time ,” it added .

It warned that such displacements would continue into at least next month, while aid workers have expressed concern about the government encouraging IDPs to return home .
Towns and villages damaged and destroyed by nine years of fighting lacked shelter, clean water , sanitation , health and education facilities , and security remained volatile.

Buhari , 75 , is seeking re -election in February next year and aid workers said his latest statement about hostilities was likely political .

He is also under pressure from increasing insecurity elsewhere , including renewed bloodshed in a long -running farmers- herders conflict that has left some 1, 000 dead since January.

“Everything points to the fact that there ’s still major , major problems ” in northeast Nigeria , one aid worker told AFP .

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