Abuja — The federal government is currently fine-tuning plans to close internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the North-east and consequently help the IDPs to return to their various homes to begin a new life.
The Minister of Defence, Col. Dan Ali, made this disclosure in Aso Rock yesterday while answering questions from State House correspondents shortly after holding a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Ali, the government wants the IDPs to return home to settle down for economic activities in their various villages.
He also said their return would kick-start the empowerment of the people in those villages because they will return to farming.
"One of the issues we also discussed is the fact that we want the IDPs to return to their homes and normal businesses because of the economic empowerment of their people in the villages.
"I have gone through the Sambisa Forest. A lot of villages are empty and we are also thinking of facilitating the process whereby all the strongholds and some of them that have no strong issues with Boko Haram will be released to go back to their farming villages and that will enhance the economic empowerment of the people," he said.
Ali who said Boko Haram had been dislodged from the North-east, added that the army had taken over the two major strongholds of the insurgents, Sambisa Forest and Camp Zairo, explaining that the main commitment of the army now is to capture Boko Haram leader, Shekau.
He also said the hitherto terrifying Sambisa Forest had been converted to training grounds for members of the armed forces adding that the forest is now being opened up with a network of roads.
He also said in recent times, professionalism has been introduced into the armed forces with a disclosure that the forces now engage in trainings such as small arms competition and sports with a view to empowering military personnel to tackle the security challenges confronting the country.
Ali added that he had a useful discussion with the president on the general security situation of the country and he tasked him and the military to do more.
"If you have been opportuned to go to Sambisa, you will know that Boko Haram has been defeated. Go and see what is happening in Sambisa. We have dominated the whole stronghold where they used to be. There is the place we call Camp Zairo where they had their spiritual and strong headquarters and which they used as communication base. It was destroyed and at the same time being occupied by our men the armed forces.
"I told you before now that the spiritual headquarters has been ransacked and vandalised. Shekau is on the run. So, he may be hiding in one of the enclaves of Sambisa Forest which we are dominating. We have opened up the place. We are using the place as a training area whereby the Army engineers will open up roads. We shall be patrolling and ransacking that forest for the whereabouts of Shekau.
"Let me tell you categorically. These Insurgents have a way of putting on masks. They could be so many but we are looking for the real ones. They have been using mask to portray Shekau in one incident or the other to give an impression that he has been killed so that we will relax but we will not relax we are on him.
"Generally, we spoke about security in the country across the nation and I believe we had a fruitful discussion and he was impressed with the performance of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Security situation is something that you cannot get 100 percent and remember that Nigeria has been having this turbulence for a very long time.
"We are trying to manage it and we are trying to make it solvable whereby every Nigerian will have peace and tranquility and do his normal business. The directive is that we should do more. The more we put in our efforts, the more Nigeria gets safer. We are doing our best and we have also requested for more in terms of equipment and I can categorically tell you that the Nigerian armed forces have turned to professional armed forces. The training we had - the small arms competition - was last done almost 11 years ago, so also the sports. So, you can see we are joining professionalism with the security challenges happening in the country," he stated.
He said as a result of the victory which followed the capture of Camp Zairo, villagers now roll out their drums to celebrate.