At least 84 people have been rescued and heavy military weapons recovered from Boko Haram fighters by Nigerian army.
The Army said on Saturday that the breakthrough was recorded during an operation in Borno State.
A total of 84 persons held hostage by the insurgents at Camp Zairo were rescued by the troops and have been handed over to the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas, disclosed that some of the women rescued were found to be pregnant while the children among them looked malnourished.
The 84 persons were flown by the Air Component of the Operation Lafiya Dole to Maiduguri, the state capital after being freed from the heavily guarded camp.
Nicholas, who handed the victims over to SEMA, said most of them are tasting freedom for the first time in about three years after their abduction.
At least 26 Boko Haram members surrendered to the military authorities in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State earlier in the week. The ‘repentant’ terrorists were paraded on Friday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital after they were quizzed by the military.
They were said to have surrendered last week and turned over their arms and ammunition including RPGs, after which they were taken to Maiduguri for deradicalisation.
More than 2300 fighters have surrendered in the last 13 months following intensive military action and seizure of the Sambisa forest, the main enclave of the insurgents.
More than 25,000 people have been killed in the insurgency since 2009 and at least 2.4 million Nigerians displaced in the northeast states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
Meanwhile, the Army has confirmed it would conduct more exercises in 2018 to assist civil authorities to deal with internal security challenges in parts of the country.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said on Friday after leading troops on a 15km Route March. Buratai said exercises `Harbin Kunama III, Crocodile Smile III and Egwu Eke Dance III would also be conducted in 2018.
Exercise Harbin Kunama I and II were conducted in 2016 and 2017, respectively, to deal with the menace of cattle rustling and herdsmen/farmers clashes in parts of North-West and North-Central.
In a related development, wife of the Boko Haram’s chief physician, Mrs. Rabi Abu-Yasir, on Saturday surrendered to the military on Operation Lafiya Dole.
Nicholas made the disclosure while handing over 82 women and children rescued from the insurgents’ captivity, to the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), in Maiduguri.
Rabi told newsmen that her husband was the medical doctor to the insurgents’ leader, Abubakar Shekau. She said she was rescued on Friday after the troops dislodged the insurgents’ enclaves in Sambisa Forest.
Recounting her ordeal, Rabi said that unlike her peers, she enjoyed preferential treatment and privileges in view of her position as a wife to the physician.
“My husband, Abu-Yasir, is Shekau’s physician, he also treat patients and conduct surgical operation.
“My type of food and other consumables are better from what they gave out to other women and children in the camps. We suffered in their hands and they warned us that Nigerian troops will kill anybody who surrenders to them.
“They always told us to stay with them and encouraged us not to submit to the troops. The military are taking care of us, as against the wrong notion the insurgents made us to believe,” she said.
Rabi lauded the military for the rescue operation and called on the abducted persons still in the bush to come out and surrender to the troops.
Nicholas explained that Rabi was among the 84 civilians rescued by the troops. He disclosed that eight of the 84 rescued persons were currently receiving treatment at the Nigerian Air Force Medical facility in Maiduguri.
Nicholas said the abductees were rescued after troops dislodged and occupied Shekau’s group operational headquarters deep in Sambisa Forest.
He revealed that the troops had destroyed insurgents’ hideouts, vehicles and ammunition, while hundreds of insurgents surrendered and over 100 civilians rescued.
According to him, the command would profile the rescued persons for rehabilitation and de-radicalisation for reintegration into the society.
“I call on those still in the bush to come out; we are not killing anybody, we are here to rescue and assist you”.