Senate moves to give legal backing to reintegration of repented Boko Haram terrorists

Despite nationwide protest, the Senate, yesterday, gave the nod for the de-radicalisation and re-integration of ‘repentant’ Boko Haram by the Federal Government.

The upper legislative chamber, as part of its support, approved for first reading, a bill that would give legal backing for repentant insurgents to be integrated into society. The bill, which passed its first reading on the floor of the Senate is titled, “National agency for the education, rehabilitation, de-radicalisation and integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria.”

The Bill, if eventually passed into law, would lead to the establishment of a Federal Government establishment dedicated to the cause of the repentant insurgents. The bill is sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam.

The Defence Headquarters has a rehabilitation centre for repentant Boko Haram terrorists in Gombe State. The centre has trained and rehabilitated over 1,000 insurgents since its inception three years ago.

Though the programme for their rehabilitation began in 2016, it was not until 2018 that the release of suspects began. It was further learnt that the repentant insurgents are trained in various professions like tailoring, mechanic and other skills.

The Borno State Government also revealed that about 1,400 repentant Boko Haram suspects have been released by the military and rehabilitated into society.

About 1,400 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram suspects, who were in detention, were also recently released and resettled back into the society by the Nigerian military

Acting Defence spokesman, Brig Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed that “in 2016, the Federal Government initiated Operation Safe Corridor (OSC) to de-radicalise repentant members of Boko Haram. It is not anything that is done haphazardly. The target audience is not those captured in combat. No! Those captured in combat are processed for prosecution, but the ones that have not been ideologically indoctrinated because they were conscripted; they were abducted are the ones being rehabilitated. They call them low-risk combatants. Those ones do not buy into Boko Haram agenda; they were forced into it. These repentant members have been assisting the military, by providing intelligence on Boko Haram’s activities,” he said.

Decrying the huge humanitarian crisis in the North East, former Senate leader and senator representing Borno South, Mohammed Ali Ndume, told Daily Sun that little was being done to address the issues.

“The humanitarian crisis that is coming after the war may be more dangerous than the war itself. The insurgency is going into its 10th year. Some children haven’t been in school in the last 10 years and we know what that means,” said Ndume.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said the de-radicalisation and empowerment of repentant insurgents by the Federal Government was suspicious.

Speaking at a news conference in Abuja to mark the second year of Leah Sharibu’s abduction, he said: “The setting free of so-called ex-Boko Haram terrorists under de-radicalisation, rehabilitation, empowerment of the arrested terrorists by the federal government is rather troubling and suspicious,” he said. What is the guarantee that the freed ex-terrorists would not return to Sambisa forest and pick up their arms against innocent Nigerians?” The Sun

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