By BASHIR ADEFAKA
“It is also important to note that this programme does not have a place for hard boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force.”
The Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has sent a word of caution to elements it describes as groups with hitherto proven bonafides, some religious leaders and a few in the legislature, who have joined the supply chain of fake news, change do a rethink because it helps neither them nor the nation.
As a result of this, it said it is now important that “we step in to clear the false reports that the administration is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military.”
The Presidency, according to a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday and copy sent to The DEFENDER by Mallam Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, it is not true that any of the de-radicalized Boko Haram members has been absorbed into the Nigerian armed forces.
“It is important for the public to know that nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption. None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military.
“This is the fourth such graduation of repentant Boko Haram fighters and not one of such graduates has been absorbed into the military,” Garba Shehu clarified adding that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of the voluntarily surrendered violent extremists done by Buhari administration is in no departure from global practice.
“The public needs to be reassured that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists of the Buhari administration code named “Operation Safe Corridor,” follows an established example from countries with similar experiences, and is supported academically and materially by the European Union and the United Nations.
“The lead agency for the implementation of the programme in Gombe is the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization which is represented in Nigeria.
“It is also important to note that this programme does not have a place for hard boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force.
“At the point of their graduation, a determination is made that the former combatants have repented and are better citizens, imbued with genuine nationalism. They must no longer represent a danger to society or to themselves.
“Where they are certified as such, communities have the duty of accepting them. Unless they want them to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they have repented, community leaders must work with the relevant agencies to end their rejection.
“The Buhari administration is a responsible one and is conscious of its duty to the state and society, and to the victims of terror as well as to those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people,” the Presidency clarified in the Garba Shehu’s statement.
The DEFENDER reports that side talks by supposedly respected people but who, for reason best known to them, now dish out unverified information further amplified by known media, are said not just misleading but also of a major concern to effort at ending insecurity in the country.