Nigerian Army has concluded arrangements to release another batch of 606 former Boko Haram fighters to their families after undergoing rehabilitation under Federal Government’s Operation Safe Corridor.
Coordinator of the programme, Major General Bamidele Shafa disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting to work out modalities for transferring the former terrorists to the authorities for reintegration at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
He said 25 Nigerians, including 14 male adults, three female adults and eight children who voluntarily laid down their arms in Niger Republic, were repatriated in February and were awaiting reintegration.
He pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari established the Operation Safe Corridor in 2015 to create avenue for repentant Boko Haram fighters to surrender and undergo de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programme.
He said since inception of the programme, 893 repentant Boko Haram fighters, referred to as ‘clients’ admitted for the programme of which 280, including two Chadians have been transferred to their national and state authorities.
“We are careful in the handling the clients, we do not compromise standards as any client who exhibit any trait of disloyalty is withdrawn from the programme and transferred for further investigation and prosecution when necessary.
“Also the programme is open ended, that is to say, when the handlers believe that a client has not been sufficiently de-radicalised, such client is made to repeat the programme.
“Our purpose is to work out modalities for the smooth transfer of the 606 clients presently in the camp to their national and states authorities for re-integration,” he added.
Speaking, Chairman, Operation Safe Corridor and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin, disclosed that over 1,000 Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) have been captured and investigated, of which 500 have been convicted in courts of competent jurisdiction.
He explained that the President directed the establishment of Operation Safe Corridor to give the terrorists the opportunity to lay down their arms, adding, “Its activities are guided by extant provisions of international humanitarian and human rights laws and the Nigerian constitution.
“Since its establishment, over 2,000 Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP members have laid down their arms of which about 1,000 have been processed by Operation Safe Corridor.
“Also, over 250 members including two foreign nationals have been successfully reintegrated by their national and state governments.
“The remaining 692 clients are currently undergoing the De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme in Gombe and Bulumkutu Rehabilitation Centre in Maiduguri.”
He stressed that the repentant Boko Haram fighters were not being absorbed into the military, adding, “It is expected that more clients will be absorbed into the programme this year.”