Aug. 28 (UPI) — A top commander of Boko Haram has confessed to leading the abduction of schoolgirls from the town of Chibok and has surrendered to the Nigerian army in Borno State.
Auwal Ismaeela confessed to the kidnappings and other crimes, and was being interrogated at a military facility, the army said.
He has offered to help security agencies locate other commanders of the sect.
Ismaeela said he “led other squads” with another commander in the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, according to an interview with PR Nigeria published Sunday.
In May, the Nigerian government said 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were released, though more than 100 are still missing. The group released 21 of the girls last October and another 50 or so have escaped on their own,
Ismaeela said he led an operation in 2014 in which students and youths at the Central Secondary School in Sabon Garin Madagali were killed.
“It is unfortunate that I was brainwashed and misled not only on some abductions but in the killings of my own people that were innocent,” he said. “I wholeheartedly regret my actions.”
He said in one of the operations he abducted “my wife named Maryam who had two kids for me in Sambisa Forest.”
And when Ismaeela led a battle in Konduga, he said he lost his right leg.
“Even at that, I did not stop fighting for the course,” Ismaeela said. “Sheikh [Abubakar] Shekau ordered that I should be given a tricycle which I continued to use for various operations before I eventually surrendered.”
He voluntarily surrendered to the Nigerian troops “after realizing the misleading sermons, barbaric indoctrination of the sect leaders and atrocities being committed in some of the Boko Haram camps.”
The former commanded added: “I willingly surrendered to the military because I was tired of the senseless killing and fight. I realized that our people have resorted to stealing and all sort of atrocity contrary to the teaching and practice of Islam.”
He noted the tough conditions in the nation.
“Women were being raped, sometimes publicly,” Ismaeela said. “Children died from malnutrition and disease as the living condition became harsher. As there was no food in the camp, people died every day because of hunger.”
Nigerian troops in the past few weeks have intensified operations against Boko Haram terrorists through coordinated air and artillery bombardments enclaves.
“So far, a total of 68 insurgents have denounced terrorists activities within the last three weeks,” said Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, deputy director of Army Public Relations of the command, in a report Saturday by the Nigerian Bulletin.
“These surrendered terrorists also reported that many of the enclaves have become untenable and life has become unbearable for the Boko Haram terrorists owing to the blockade placed by troops and the sustained bombardments.”