Appraising Gains Of Boko Haram’s De-radicalisation And Rehabilitation In Gombe

Appraising Gains Of Boko Haram’s De-radicalisation And Rehabilitation In Gombe

The terror group which started as a religious movement in Borno State later turned into a militant gang that pestered the state with violent atrocities and gradually extended their nefarious acts and violence to different sub-regions in the north including north east and north west.
As a result of the menace, many schools were closed down for the fear of attacks by the anti-western education militants who also carted away school girls and forcefully shared them among the gangsters as sex slaves, before many were rescued by the authorities.

LEADERSHIP Weekend observed that the Boko Haram terrorists almost made Nigeria ungovernable as they slew both security agents and civilians in cold blood.
However, the Nigerian troops comprising the military and police and other vigilante organisations had countered them by waging spirited war to protect fellow compatriots.
But having observed that the endemic war engulfed huge amounts of funds of the nation, the federal government decided to grant amnesty to some repentant insurgents who willingly renounced the gang. Those repentant militants also helped the Nigerian authorities with information that led to the victory over the terrorists.

It is no longer news that the first leader of the Boko Haram sect Muhammed Yusuf was killed by the Nigeria police; his successor, Abubakar Shekau also died in the Sambisa Forest, his den. Many other commanders of the dreadful group were also neutralised by the Nigerian troops.
The development led to the winning of the war against Boko Haram terrorism. However, to consolidate on the gains, the federal government through the military came up with a de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programme for ex-members of the terror group with a view to changing their orientation and stopping them from joining similar violent movements in the future.

The rehabilitation programme takes place in Gombe State at Malam Sidi village where a camp manned and protected by the military was designated for that purpose. It is said that the ex-terrorists are not only de-radicalised but taught skills at the camp before they are reintegrated into the society.
So far, over 2,000 former ‘Boko Haramists’ were rehabilitated and reintegrated into their own communities by the Nigerian armed forces.
Stakeholders have hailed the military for the programme saying it goes a long way in tackling the menace of the religious fanatics.

Editor-in-chief of the ‘Nigerian Spokesman Media,’ Mr Emeka Nwankpa and the northern regional rapporteur of a civil society organisation known as ‘Concerned Professionals Congress (CPC), Malam Kasim Baba Kasim lauded the programme at a joint press conference they addressed in Gombe State recently.
They said their visit to the rehabilitation camp at Mallam Sidi in Gombe State revealed that many Boko Haram combatants who surrendered to the Nigerian military and repented voluntarily undergo rehabilitation at the camp.
The conveners of the press conference also told journalists that the primary objective of the operation was to facilitate easy access and passage for surrendering insurgents to security forces for subsequent de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and re-integration stressing that without the policy “which has maintained a safe corridor for thousands of repentant ex-Boko Haram terrorists, they would have continued to be in the bush.
“However, the good news does not stop there. Here in Mallam Sidi, Operation Safe Corridor has continued to receive them for the programme. So far, a total of 2,168 have undergone the programme and successfully integrated into the Nigerian society.

“At our meeting with the camp commandant, he informed us that so far, no negative report of any of their former clients – that is repentant Boko Haram combatants.”
He added that where few enquiries were sought from their records, none of them was found wanting because of the intensity, depth, credibility and integrity of the rehabilitation programme which he said many countries have shown huge interests to adopt, for example, Ethiopia which sent top officials last month.
Gombe State deputy governor, Manasseh Jatau also commended the programme of rehabilitation and re-integration of repentant insurgents.

Jatau who served as special guest of honour at the graduation ceremony of special batch 5 and ‘Sulhu’ batch 6, at the camp in Gombe organised by ‘Operation Safe Corridor’, said the rehabilitation of the repentant insurgents by the military is the right step in the right direction towards giving them a second chance to contribute their positive part to the development of the nation.
He appreciated the role of the federal government, the military, state governments in the north east, traditional rulers, community and religious leaders for seeing to the reintegration of the ex-militants.
The Chief of Defence Staff, and chairman operation Safe Corridor, General Christopher Musa, explained that Operation Safe Corridor was set up in furtherance of curbing insurgency that has bedeviled the country especially the North East Sub-region region.

Represented by Major General Sani Mohammed Ahmed, the Chief of Defence Staff noted that Operation Safe Corridor has over the years trained and integrated 2,168 former terrorists into the society.
He enjoined the people to disregard the insinuations that after the integration “the insurgents are later absorbed into the army, police and other paramilitary agencies” pointing out that there are steps put in place to monitor the activities of the re-integrated persons.
He appealed to the north east governors to always include the activities of Operation Safe Corridor in their meetings, and members of the public to support the scheme with a view to fulfilling their mandate.
In their remarks, the coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Brigadier General S. Adamu and the commandant, De-radicalisation Rehabilitation and Re-integration, Operation Safe Corridor, stated that in the course of the training, the clients were taught skills like shoe making, tailoring, carpentry, laundry, barbing and welding.
One of the repentant insurgents, Mohammed Goni appreciated the opportunity given to them by the government to be integrated back to the society pledging to abide by their repentance and oath of allegiance as well as use their starter packs judiciously.

Many analysts opined that dialogue is one of the best ways to tackle terrorism in the country arguing that using force alone could not yield the desired results.
As Boko Haram terrorism seems to be over now, the country is however grappling with bandits who kidnap innocent citizens for ransom payments. They also prevent farming activities in vulnerable areas and kill people.
The question is, can the military adopt the same approach they used in tackling Boko Haram to end banditry by using both force and conducting de-radicalisation programmes to the violent herders who indulge in banditry?
Another step that could help address the menace of banditry by the itinerants, LEADERSHIP Weekend suggests, is the overhauling of the nomadic education where children of herders could be educated as illiteracy and ignorance could be one of the factors making citizens go wayward.

Government could also extend amenities to the rural dwellers and provide meaningful job opportunities for them with a view to addressing idleness as some bandit-leaders claim they are freedom fighters who strive to protect their kinsmen against domination and oppression.

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