Repentant boko haram members graduate from de-radicalisation training

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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Operation Safe Corridor has graduated 95 de-radicalised members of repentant boko haram at their camp in Gombe State, in addition to few others who had already successfully graduated in the pilot batch and reunited with their families in June, 2017.

Speaking at the graduation, the Chairman of Operation Safe Corridor, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, who was represented at the graduation by Rear Admiral Jonathan Ango, urged states, communities and traditional institutions in those areas to accept the clients back to make the circle of integration complete.

“My expectation therefore is that, as they discharge from this programme, their state governments would take
adequate steps through the traditional institutions to see that these boys are well reconciled, resettled and reintegrated in the interest of peace and love for our dear nation.
Let me seize this opportunity to sincerely thank the Executive Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwabo and the good people of the State for allowing us to use your ground and
facilities for this program. I am also grateful for the unflinching support of the Governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe states as well as their traditional institutions for the success of today’s programme and the process leading to the discharge of the clients. My appreciations also go to the heads of the various Federal and states institutions that have deployed staff for this program”,
General Olonisakin said.

In the meantime, the Coordinator of Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamidele Shafa, said officials of the operations undertook a visit to traditional institutions of the various states to ensure that the clients were safely integrated into the society without discrimination.

As part of the decisions reached at the meeting, visits were conducted to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe states to sensitise the state authorities and traditional rulers on the need to reconcile, resettle and reintegrate the clients back into their communities. I wish to state that, the reception of the various Stakeholders in the 4 states were warm, encouraging and assuring that the Clients would be accepted wholeheartedly on return.

It will be recalled that in July last year, the second batch of the repentant boko haram members gave themselves in and agreed to be transformed, so as to reintegrate into the society. So they arrived at the camp in Gombe state and began to engage in various training sessions.

According to Operation Safe Corridor, they were subjected to advance profiling, medical examination, DNA Registration and documentation on the National Identity Card System.

The Camp Commandant, Colonel Adegoke Adetuyi, said the clients were engaged in a number of therapies and activities required for their de-radicalisation and rehabilitation, so as to transform them to conform to the acceptable norms and tenets of a civilised society.

These include psychotherapy, psycho-spiritual counselling, drug abuse intervention and other engagements under the various specialists, including Counsellors, Clergies, Psychologists and Interpreters. Others are Social Workers, Drug Rehab Specialists, Dramatists, Sports/Recreations and the Medicals. They were also exposed to basic Western Education and Art Therapy by the Educationists and Art Therapists. The professionals were drawn from 13 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government’, he said.

Colonel Adetuyi said the essential elements of the De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme was vocational training for the ex-combatants through various vocations such as barbing, shoe making, leather works, and cosmetology.

“An essential element of the DRR programme is vocational training for the ex-combatants by instructors from National Directorate of Employment. Accordingly, the 95 ex-combatants went through a number of vocations including Barbing, Shoe Making/Leather Works and Cosmetology, which compose of making of body cream, perfume and liquid soap, among others.
The ex-combatants were enthusiastic about their skill acquisition programme and are looking forward to practise their trades after discharge from the Camp. They are to further their training with National Directorate of Employment in their States of residence, in order to enhance smooth reintegration”.

Colonel Adetuyi said in some weeks to come, the next batch of ex-combatants would graduate from the training, but with additional vocations to the list of training to undertake, such as Welding, Tailoring, and Furniture.

He said Plumbing, Electrical and Automobile repair were being considered for future inclusion in the training programme, like a Demonstration Farm, Poultry, Fish Ponds and Greenhouse, which were currently under construction, in collaboration with an International Partner.

The Coordinator of Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamidele Shafa, said there were 254 clients in the camp, who were undergoing the de-radicalisation programme.

“Operation SAFE CORRIDOR is one of the multidimensional efforts of the Federal Government to restore lasting peace and security to the North East of Nigeria. The Operation was established to facilitate the De-Radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) of repentant and surrendered Boko Haram terrorists. Accordingly, the Camp successfully graduated a few Boko Haram abductees and suspects in the Pilot Batch of the programme and were reunited with their families in June 2017.  This set of 95 clients to be discharged today were absorbed into the DRR programme in July 2017. On arrival in the Camp, the clients were subjected to necessary procedures required for the programme” Major General Shafa said.

The de-radicalised boko haram members were trained on various vocations, such as barbing, shoe making, leather works, and cosmetology, which composed of making body cream, perfume and liquid soap.

Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who has been playing host to the clients, called on the society to accept them back and even patronise their wares from the trade they learnt while in the camp.

“I call on our people to make sure that they move these people closer to them and not to move far away from them, so that the process of the integration will be complete and adequate. And I call on all people in this our respective zone to ensure that as a part completion of this process, if they decide to go and continue in any business, profession or vocation, they are encouraged to do that more. And the encouragement is in the form of patronage,” Governor Dankwambo said.

This process is the Operation Safe Corridor is an initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari, aimed at encouraging willing and repentant boko haram fighters to surrender and go through a planned De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme to prepare them for return to the larger society.

20 of the 95 graduating clients are people below the ages of 18, but they all renounced their membership of boko haram and pledged the oath of allegiance to Nigeria and never to go back to the old life of killing and destruction.

They were at the end given a starter pack, which will set them on for a new life in their various communities of residence.

Nnenna.O