Confession Of Former Boko Haram Commander Who Surrendered To Cameroonian Soldiers After Escaping From Sambisa Forest
Ex Boko Haram Commander, Rawana Goni has appealed to the military to allow him call the elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, and about 137 others, to make them surrender.
32-year-old Goni, who is undergoing rehabilitation at a military detention camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, spoke in an interview with NAN.
The former Boko Haram commander is an indigene of Bama in Borno State. He surrendered to the military in Cameroon after escaping from Sambisa Forest eight months ago.
Goni claimed to have held several positions in 10 different cells in Sambisa Forest, the last position being the Chief Officer of Dispute Resolution. Many militants came to him to settle problems such as family matters, and he also reconciled Boko Haram factions.
“I rescued people sentenced to death and minimised punishment of those who committed crimes. I am one of the most influential persons in the group and they always listened to my opinion.
“I joined Boko Haram because of the condition I found myself in the last five years. When the insurgents invaded Bama, I ran with my family to Cameroon thinking I was in a safe place. But on reaching Cameroon, I was shocked to realise that I brought myself into another Boko Haram camp. By that time, I knew I would not survive without joining the group.
“Days after my induction, we opened a permanent camp at the Cameroonian border and named the forest “Aluska”. It was in that camp that I learnt all types of trainings, including handling weapons.
“After the training, we embarked on our first mission – we invaded a military formation in Cameroon, dislodged the soldiers and took many weapons from their armoury. We couldn’t take any vehicle because the area was surrounded by river.
“We took the recovered weapons to our leader – Abubakar Shekau – and briefed him on our success. He was happy that five of us could dislodge a military formation. After congratulating us, he appointed me to lead the group and returned our weapons to us.
“Few days later, I recruited many fighters, because as a commander, you are expected to have no fewer than 250 fighting troops. With the new fighting force, we invaded Waza, Damaga and Banki. We also invaded Bama.
“I was touched to see my people being tortured and killed, while women and children were living in excruciating hardship. So I decided to pass a message to my fellow insurgents from Bama and we formed a group, comprising about 137 persons, to help our people in prison escape.
“I was able to rescue about 300 hostages at the prison facility in Bama. I usually lied to the guards at the prison that I was going to kill the inmates. But I would take them to a safe place in Konduga and ask them to run to a safer destination.
“Many of the prisoners were exposed to hard labour while some were used as guinea pigs at shooting range.”
Goni added that Shekau’s was healthy as against a report of his ill-health.
“Nothing happened to him; he broke his leg five years ago while riding a horse but he has since recovered.
“Anyone saying Shekau is sick is deceiving himself. We used to communicate through radiophone but not anymore,” he added.
The ex-insurgent, who believes the war was coming to an end, urged the military to let him tell Shekau and other insurgents that he is still alive.
He said: “My 137 boys are on standby to hear I am still alive and I can assure you they will run out of Sambisa Forest and surrender to the military. I once told them to surrender and they said we shall all get killed. But I told them that I will surrender and they said if nothing happened to me, they will all come out.”