602 former Boko Haram members prepare for freedom after repentance
The repentant former terrorists have denounced the group that has terrorised the northeast for over a decade.
The former members of the Islamic sect swore an oath of allegiance before an 11-member Quasi Judicial Panel headed by Justice Nehizena Afolabi of the Federal High Court in Gombe.
The denunciation followed months of participation in Operation Safe Corridor, a multi-agency humanitarian effort, led by Defence Headquarters, that was launched in 2016 to encourage Boko Haram terrorists to surrender.
The programme is based on De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) of former members of the Islamic sect that has terrorised the northeast region for over 10 years.
Coordinator of the operation, Major-General Bamidele Shafa, said the exercise is a crucial part of the programme before repentant insurgents can be reintegrated into society.
He said, "The panel is for the clients to appear before it to confess their pasts and denounce their membership of Boko Haram, Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP), as the case may be, and swear oath of allegiance to be loyal, disciplined, and obedient citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and then make commitment.
"The commitment is that at the end of the programme, where they commit any offence, they stand to forfeit all privileges that they have acquired today and will be liable of offence against the state."
The spokesperson of Defence Headquarters, Major-General John Enenche, had previously announced in June that 603 former combatants who have completed the DRR Programme would be released in July.
He said a total of 893 ex-combatants have been admitted into the programme since 2016, with 280, including two Chadians, already reintegrated back into the society through their respective state and national authorities.
"The Operation is a success story as feedbacks from those reintegrated are positive.
"A particular one in Bama who learnt barbing as a vocation has successfully empowered four locals and is happily married with children," he noted.
The Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, said on Monday the released terrorists will be provided support when they are reintegrated.
"We will provide them with psycho-social supports, continue with religious admonition in order to make them good citizens of the country.
"We will also give them starter packs to help them practice the skills that had been acquired in the camp here," she said.
The Boko Haram insurgency kicked off in 2009 and has led to the death of over 30,000 people, and displacement of over 2.5 million in the northeast and surrounding border countries.
While reacting to criticism against Operation Safe Corridor last month, Enenche assured the public that it's a non-kinetic operation aimed at giving hope to former combatants who willingly give up their arms to embrace peace.
In May, Amnesty International criticised the programme for being rife with violations, including the unlawful detention of people not proven to be Boko Haram collaborators.
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