The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, says none of the over 1,000 rehabilitated ex-Boko Haram fighters have been recruited into the Nigerian military.
Irabor said at the Stakeholders’ Meeting of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) on Tuesday in Abuja, that Nigeria would never recruit any ex-fighter into its military.
The CDS, represented by the Chief of Defence Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini assured Nigerians that none of such ex-fighters would also be recruited into any of the sister security services in the country.
According to him, the concerns over the alleged recruitment of rehabilitated ex-fighters into the military and paramilitary agencies were unfounded, as stringent safeguards had been put in place to prevent such.
The CDS disclosed that the Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme of OPSC had so far graduated and reintegrated over 1,000 clients, including 16 foreign nationals.
He added that a total of 559 new clients were currently going through the DRR programme in Gombe State.
Irabor explained that OPSC had improved the programme’s principles, practices and procedures over the years, making the initiative a model that had been replicated in all the Lake Chad Basin countries.
According to him, it has also elicited the interest of both local and international bodies including academia.
“The DRR Programme consists of psychological, humanitarian treatments that reassure and provide alternatives to low-profile combatants through psycho-social, psycho-spiritual therapies, recreations, vocational training, and introductory western education.
“The programme is countering Boko Haram and Islamic States of West African Province (ISWAP) ideologies and reducing their recruitment drive while depleting the critical mass of their fighting force.
“OPSC is not a purely military operation, as some have suggested, it is a peacebuilding effort and its essential duties are carried out by relevant MDAS with the necessary expertise.
“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 said.
Irabor said the approaches, practices, procedures, strategies, and tactics of the military in its counter-insurgency operation had continued to evolve, 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, we 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 Nigerian government,” the CDS said.
The Coordinator of OPSC, Brig.-Gen. Joseph Maina said the operation began in September 2015 to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram members to surrender and go through a well-structured DRR programme.
He said that OPSC was a multi-agency, multi-national humanitarian scheme backed by Nigeria’s Constitution, as well as International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws.
According to him, OPSC has admitted over 1,070 clients comprising 1,064 Nigerians and 16 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger since 2016.
“All the foreign clients were transferred to their respective national authorities for reintegration.
“Presently, there are 559 clients undergoing the programme in the camp, out of which two clients are Chadian citizens.
“It is also important to mention that one client was repatriated to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital for expert psychiatric management during the initial documentation stages of the programme,” he said.
Maina disclosed that OPSC and its partners had been conducting follow-up activities to assess the performance of the clients in the communities, adding that reports from these exercises had so far been encouraging.
The coordinator said the stakeholders’ meeting was convened to work out modalities for the smooth transfer of the 559 clients presently in the camp to their national and states authorities for re-integration after graduation in January 2022.
He said it was expected that the stakeholders would be fully abreast with the activities of OPSC and DRR programme in particular, among other issues.
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