NIGERIAN Army commanders have handed 151 repentant Boko Haram terrorists to the Borno State government as part of a plan to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into society.
Under a federal government amnesty programme, Boko Haram fighters who lay down their arms and embrace peace are trained and allowed to return to living normal lifestyles. Once they surrender, they are sent to training centres where they taught vocational trades and upon completion of the courses are offered jobs.
Yesterday, Bamidele Shafa, the coordinator of the programme called Operation Safe Corridor, said that the 151 male repentant insurgents comprised 132 adults and 19 minors, who completed 52 weeks of de-radicalisation at its centre in Gombe. He then handed them over to the Borno State government at the Bulunkutu Rehabilitation Centre in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Mr Shafa disclosed that the clients were exposed to formal literacy classes, skills acquisition and Islamic Religious Knowledge as well as drug and psycho-therapists during their training. He explained that Operation Safe Corridor was designed to encourage Boko Haram insurgents to surrender, as well as provide de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes for them to enable them to rejoin society.
“The clients confessed their past misdeeds, denounced membership of the Boko Haram group, asked for forgiveness and took an oath of allegiance to Nigeria. I believe they are now good citizens to rejoin the society,” he said.
Mr Shafa lauded the Borno State government for its support and efforts to assist the repentant insurgents to reintegrate into the society. Umar Kadafur, the Borno State deputy governor commended the federal government over its implementation of Operation Safe Corridor to rehabilitate and reintegrate the repentant insurgents.
Furthermore, Mr Kadafur, said that the state government had adopted effective measures to accept the insurgents willing to voluntarily surrender and to create an enabling environment for them to rejoin society. He added that the state government had also directed community leaders to sensitise their people on the need to accept the rehabilitated insurgents and warned against the infringement of their rights.
In addition, the deputy governor said that the state government would support rehabilitated insurgents to set up their business, to enable them to engage in productive activities and contribute to the development of the society. Tela Dandija and Kyari Buguma, two of the repentant insurgents, thanked the federal government for the amnesty granted to them and called on others still in the bush to surrender.