Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, has called on citizens of the State to rise up in unity in order to fight terrorism which, according to him, wants the people to “live in the permanent slavery of fear.”
Shettima said this in a television broadcast to residents of Borno on Thursday night.
The governor noted that the flushing out of Boko Haram fighters from their Sambisa Forest stronghold and the capture of the forest by the military does not mean that the insurgency is over.
It had rather pushed the insurgents to resort to “cowardly and vile attacks such as those on schools, places of worship, markets and other soft targets.”
“In this criminal endeavour, they resort to the use of teenagers and children as young as seven years,” Shettima said.
“More recently, they even strap babies on the back of their recruits in order to slip through our security dragnets.
“They also use hard drugs on these innocent children who do not know what they are doing when they kill their own parents, relations, and fellow countrymen and women.”
Shettima commended parents who had willingly allowed their sons to join the Civilian Joint Task Force in efforts to support the Nigerian Military in the counter-insurgency operations, as well as residents and hunters who had organized themselves in small vigilante groups to protect their communities.
He said: “I know that majority of you, the good people of Borno State, have remained sincerely committed to fighting this insurgency. I have met parents who exposed their insurgent biological children and handed them over to security forces to face justice.
“I know that insurgents and their allies often hide their identity so well that good citizens may innocently associate with them. But the bold patriotism of parents who turn in their children has always strengthened our resolve.
“I have met parents who encouraged their children to join the Civilian JTF and risk their lives to fight insurgents. I have even met parents who remained contended and proud even after their sons died fighting under the Civilian JTF.
“I have seen elderly men and young girls organize themselves to join the fight as vigilantes and the Civilian JTF,” the Governor said.
Shettima stressed that “anyone factually suspected of despicable links with the Boko Haram and other criminals should face justice even if that person happens to be one of my three biological children,” adding that “Support for insurgents is a crime against humanity.”
He also eulogized the Military and members of humanitarian agencies “for standing by the good people of Borno State through thick and thin.”
The Governor urged the people not to give up hope, as that would mean victory for the insurgents. Rather, citizens should remain alert and vigilant.
“I urge you, the good people of Borno State, not to despair but to rise as one and stand up to this murderous gasp of a dying insurgency,” he said.
“I know the sacrifices many citizens have made and it is because of your devotion that I am urging all the people of Borno State to rise up as one and increase our community vigilance, especially around soft targets.
“We must remobilise ourselves and step up vigilance and community policing around all our population and community centres like mosques, churches, markets, schools, hospitals, shopping complexes, football fields, social gatherings and motor parks.
“We must watch out for strange and suspicious faces, not for the purpose of taking the law into our hands but for reporting these suspicious persons to the nearest security agents for prompt action.
“We will not allow them succeed in their wish to make us live in the permanent slavery of fear.
“Infact, they have failed in their mission because together, we have said no to them, and in saying NO, we must not let them cause us any more harm,” Shettima said.