The De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) Programme of the Nigerian Army’s Operation Safe Corridor has held a reunion programme for the ex-Boko haram combatants to give them the opportunity to interact with their relatives after years of separation.
The interaction took place at the camp in Gombe State, which according to the authorities, was a preliminary process for the holistic re-integration of the repentant ex-Boko haram members into the larger society.
The Camp Commandant of the DRR Programme, Brigadier General Musa Ibrahim, said the interaction was allowed to ensure reconciliation and forgiveness on both sides.
“They are now better human beings. They have gone through a lot of Islamic Teachings a lot of medical checks and some good things concerning their lives. They are not the people you used to know.
“Some of them you’ve not seen them for over 8 years, some three years, and some five years. So, today, I know it will be a thing of joy for them,” said Brigadier general Ibrahim.
He said the ex-combatants had gone through a series of de-radicalisation and rehabilitation process that would give them a better perspective to life for use after they leave the camp subsequently.
The Borno State Government was represented by the Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zuwaira Gambo, who spoke to the clients from Borno State.
Hajia Gambo urged both the relatives and the ex-combatants, who joined willingly or were forced into the group, to forgive and accept the change they had been subjected to at the camp.
She urged the clients to make use of the skills and the knowledge they gained at the camp as a foundation for a better future in the larger society, after the end of their training.
“I want you to use the skills and knowledge you gained her as a stepping stone for better things to come. If you do that, by using the knowledge you acquire, religious knowledge, knowledge of obedience, avoiding acts that will lead you to unlawful behaviours, I sincerely believe, the outcome it will become a lesson, history and a good lesson to emulate”. Hajia Zuwaira said.
She said the reunion programme has achieved a lot in preparing them for the real integration into their communities.
“It has created a platform for them to see and reconnect with their families before their final integration. And so, this is very, very important. I think it is one of the greatest aspects of the entire process because it is sensitising them, it is making them meet with their families before the final reunion, otherwise, there would be disconnection”. Hajia Zuwaira said.
One of the clients, Bappa Yunusa, from Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State who had not seen his mother for seven years, was full of joy and could not contain his excitement at the reunion.
Bappa’s mother recalled that her son, along with his elder brother was dragged away and forced to join the insurgents, while she and their father watched helplessly, but that she was thankful to God for bringing back her son to her in good health.
She prayed that God would also bring back Bappa’s elder brother safe and in good health.
In the meantime, Bappa said he left behind two wives and two children in the Sambisa Forest and was praying to reunite with them and his elder brother someday.