In what is considered the largest surrender since Boko Haram militants launched their attacks in Nigeria in 2009, at least 200 extremists from the group surrendered to the Nigerian army on Friday, 25 September. The army tweeted about the surrender just as the Nigerian troops captured Banki, a border town with Cameroon, from the clutches of the extremist group.
The Nigerian army, with the help of the Nigerian Air Force and the Cameroonian Army, carried out 'Operation Lafiya Dole' in the Nigerian town of Banki, a fishing town on the border with Cameroon. The commander of the operation, General Yusha'u Abubakar, said: "After the capture of Banki, over 200 members of the insurgency group willingly surrendered to the military."
Banki is a significant capture for the army as Boko Haram extremists had been pushing ahead in large parts by disrupting the fish trade in the Lake Chad basin. Boko Haram has previously used Banki to launch cross-border attacks, including in and around the Cameroon town of Amchide, where the Islamists clashed with security forces and there were failed suicide attacks on 22 September.
In the past month, the Nigerian Army has claimed many such surrenders by members of the extremist group although this may be the largest given the numbers. On 13 September, the army said scores of members of the insurgent group had surrendered their arms. A similar claim was made on 22 September when news came of 10 terrorists surrendering to troops at Kawuri village in Borno state. Two days later, on 24 September, the military issued a statement saying another batch of 135 Boko Haram members had surrendered with their weapons in Borno. Earlier this week, the army announced that 241 women and children had been rescued near the border with Cameroon.
The fate of the surrendered insurgents is not yet clear: whether they will be prosecuted or given partial mercy for surrendering. According to a BBC report, they would all be screened and put through the government's de-radicalisation programme. However, law and order proceedings are expected to take their own course.
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has given military commanders a deadline until early December this year to end the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed at least 17,000 lives and left more than two million homeless.