No repentant Boko Haram member in military – Presidency

The Presidency on Wednesday responded to those who have been kicking against the de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram members, saying the programme followed “an established example of countries with similar experiences.”

It said the programme enjoyed the support of international organisations such as European Union and the United Nations.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement titled “Serious leaders must not fall for fake news on repentant terrorists -Presidency.”

Some Nigerians, including victims of insurgency in the North East, have kicked against the programme which they said was a way of rewarding those who have shed innocent blood.

There are also unconfirmed claims that some of the rehabilitated sect members still go back to pick up arms against the people.

But Shehu said at the point of their graduation, a determination is made that the former combatants have repented and are better citizens, imbued with genuine nationalism.

He said communities have the duty of accepting them.

The presidential aide faulted claims that the current regime is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military through the programme, describing such claims as fake news.

He said nobody has been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalised Boko Haram members and there was no such plan for their absorption.

The statement read, “None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalisation 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.

“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 Organisation for Migration, a leading inter-government organisation 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.”
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