Only last week two suicide bombers killed 30 people in northeastern Nigeria, but the governor of Borno state, the country’s terrorist heartland, told AFP in an interview that Boko Haram has been defeated.
Kashim Shettima said the war against the terrorist militants was “over” and predicted that hundreds of thousands of displaced people would have returned to their homes by May.
Though the UN last month said Boko Haram was blocking aid supplies from reaching refugees, leaving thousands at risk of starvation, Shettima said the terrorists no longer posed a threat.
The ISIL group-linked militants came close to overrunning much of northeastern Nigeria, he said, during the now seven-year-old insurrection.
“Two years ago, Maiduguri was on the edge of falling to the Boko Haram,” he said referring to the state capital.
“Boko Haram was controlling 20 out of 27 local government areas in Borno. You couldn’t dare to go 15 kilometres (nine miles) out of Maiduguri (and) you are in Boko Haram territory.
“But now Boko Haram have been defeated, they are being chased out of all our communities, they do not have the capacity to hold on to any territory in Nigeria any longer.”
The governor acknowledged however that Boko Haram still posed a threat to life.
“Yes, they are launching suicide bombings and so on once in a while. But to me, even suicide bombing is a sign of weakness, not of strength,” he said.