Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe
Operation Safe Corridor of the Nigerian Army has graduated a set of 15 convicted Boko Haram fighters from its Deradicalization Rehabilitation and Reintegration program in Gombe state.
It is a multi-agency, multi-national humanitarian operation composed of 437 staff from the armed forces of Nigeria and 13 other organisations as well as other international agencies and organisations, aimed at de-radicalizing, rehabilitating and re-integrating repentant Boko Haram members, as part of measures to fast track peace process in the North east.
Speaking during the graduation of the clients at their camp, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishaki, who was represented by the Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamidele Shafa, said the 15 graduating clients were already tried and convicted by a court before being transferred to the rehabilitation facility.
General Olonishakin said OPSC had secured the release of about 1800 persons for rehabilitation.
“The clients graduating today were tried and convicted by court of competent jurisdiction and transferred to OPSC for rehabilitation to prepare them for integration after serving their jail terms. OPSC has also facilitated the release of cleared 1, 789 associated persons to their state authorities for rehabilitation and re-integration. In a couple of days, another set of clients already cleared by Operation Lafiya Dole will be admitted into the camp for DRR Programme,” General Olonishakin said.
He explained that the OPSC has since its establishment in 2016 admitted 287 repentant members of the insurgent group into the camp for the DRR program and that 253 including two Chadians had been successfully transferred to their states and country for re-integration back to society.
“I wish to state that the groups of persons are doing well in their various communities with no report of hostility against them or any case of recidivism” said General Olonishaki.
He appreciated the government and people of Gombe state for hosting the programme, saying the people need to be adequately compensated for the gesture.
To this end, he announced interventions for the community from the Defence Headquarters, which include a free medical outreach targeting 1,500 people in the host community, donation of some beds and mattresses, as well as a sunken borehole at the Government Senior Secondary School, Malam Sidi.
The Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, who was represented by the Director Special Services, and Political Affair Bureau Shuabu Danlami, commended the Nigerian army for its continuous success in the fight against insurgents in the region.
“I commend the OPSC for carrying out its mandate successfully. As we are all aware, insurgents have been severely degraded. I therefore, commend the Nigeria arm forces for their commitment and sacrifices towards ensuring peace in the country. I call on the remaining insurgents to come out from their hideout and embrace peace for their benefit and the entire humanity,” Governor Yahaya said.
Also present during the graduation were the representative of the International Organisation for Migration, and a team from the United States Embassy, who went round to witness the donations and the commencement of the free medical outreach.