The Nigerian Defence Headquarters says over five hundred new boko haram members are currently undergoing De- radicalisation /rehabilitation and Reintegration DPR Program at the DPR Camp in Gombe State, North East Nigeria.
The Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor disclosed this during the Operation Safe Corridor stakeholders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
While declaring the meeting open he said, he aimed at working out modalities for transferring Rehabilitated Clients to their National and State Government Authorities for Reintegration.
Represented by Chief of Defence, Training and Operation, Major General, Adeyemi Yakini, General Irabor noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria have been involved in this counterinsurgency operation for over a decade and their approaches, practices, procedures, strategies, and tactics have also evolved to effectively tackle the amorphous nature of the threat.
According to him, the initial response was a single service operation that was limited to only the formations and units based in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States.
However, as time passed, several task forces were formed, eventually leading to the formation of a Theatre Command with several components including a Naval Task Force and an Aviation Task Force to weaken the insurgents.
In furtherance of this objective, they are committed to forging stronger synergy between the Services and other security agencies.
All of these efforts have re-energised the fight against the insurgents, and the AFN has continuously made progress towards ending the war in favour of the FGN, he said.
He also noted that before 2015, boko haram, BHT/ Islamic West Africa Province, ISWAP had presence and control of 27 LGAS in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
According to him, the group also had the capacity to carry out operations far into Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, and the Federal Capital Territory.
He said “this is not the case today as their activities have been extensively contained and mostly restrained to a small section of the Sambisa Forest and a few isolated islands on the Lake Chad”.
Nevertheless, the insurgents have continued to carry out strikes on isolated civilian targets to abduct and execute innocent citizens perceived to be against their cause.
They have also recently resorted to attacking commuters along major highways in the Northeast and the destruction of strategic installations like power lines and communication mast.
He said “counterinsurgents through the application of force, other non-kinetic measures are also required to engender the achievement of the desired results”.
One of such ingenuous ways is the introduction of Operation Safe Corridor, OPSC by President, Muhammadu Buhari, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in 2015.
He added that the initiative offers willing and repentant low-profile members of the insurgent groups, who form the critical mass, an opportunity to lay down their arms and take advantage of the De-radicalisation Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme (DRR) of the Federal Government.
The Defence Chief Said “the Scheme is multi-agency in nature with over 17 Services, Ministries, Departments and Agencies taking part.
Also taking part are local and international organisations as well as interested friendly nations who provide technical and material support as necessary adding that OPSC activities are guided by extant provisions of international humanitarian and human right laws as well as the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”.
According to him, OPSC is not a purely military operation, as some have suggested.
He said “the OPSC is a peace building effort and its essential duties are carried out by relevant MDAS with the necessary expertise adding that the military and other security and law enforcement agencies are involved to the extent of creating an enabling environment and leadership for the DRR Programme to function efficiently”.
He noted that there have also been concerns that OPSC graduates are being recruited by the military and paramilitary agencies.
He clearly disputed this assertion and reassured Nigerians that none of the over 1,000 rehabilitated Nigerians from OPSC DRR have been recruited and will never be recruited into the Nigerian Military or sister security services due to stringent safeguards in place to prevent such recruitment.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Coordinator Operation Safe Haven, Brigadier General Joseph Maina said since the commencement of the Programme Operation Safe Corridor, OPSC in 2016, OPSC has admitted over 1,070 clients comprising 1,064 Nigerians and 16 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
All the foreign clients were transferred to their respective national authorities for reintegration.
According to him, it is also important to mention that one client was repatriated to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for expert psychiatric management during the initial documentation stages of the programme.
General Maina said “monitoring and evaluation is a critical component of the DRR programme, therefore OPSC in conjunction with its partners conduct Follow-Up activities to assess the performance of the clients in the communities.
He noted that in line with the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff/National Chairman of OPSC, is to work out modalities for the smooth transfer of the 559 clients presently in the camp to their national and states authorities for reintegration after graduation in January 2022.
Specifically, at the end of the meeting, it is expected that they would have achieved the following milestones:
All stakeholders would be fully abreast with activities of OPSC and DRR Programme in particular.
The State authorities and the MDAs would know in specific terms the roles they would play in the transfer and re-integration process of the clients.
Identify and recommend in specific terms affordable Resettlement Package for the clients and assign responsibility to relevant MDAs to provide.
Determine the mode community sensitization, camp visitation and community service programmes would take.
Ratify the Graduation Date and initiate arrangements for the ceremony.
According to him, the task so far has not been an easy one, but for the fatherly support and encouragement of the Chief of Defence Staff and other members of the National Committee, heads of the various MDAs and Principal Staff Officers at the Defence and Services Headquarters as well as local and international implementation partners.
Over 500 repentant boko haram members undergo rehabilitation