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Group worries over FG’s reintegration of repentant insurgents into society

By Kehinde Olatunji
07 March 2020   |   3:09 am
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, (SMBLF), yesterday, raised alarm that the Federal Government has perfected plans to reintegrate about 606 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members into society under ‘Operation Safe Corridor.’

• Ekhomu Urges FG To Mount Major Spring Offensive Against Boko Haram

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, (SMBLF), yesterday, raised alarm that the Federal Government has perfected plans to reintegrate about 606 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members into society under ‘Operation Safe Corridor.’

In a statement signed by Yinka Odumakin (Southwest), Gen. CRU Ihekire (Southeast), Senator Bassey Henshaw  (South-South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the forum said it was constrained to alert Nigerians and the international community of the federal government’s efforts to provide support for ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members.

This is just as security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, advised the federal government to mount a major military offensive this spring against the Islamist sect to save Nigerian lives by disrupting the plans and operations of the insurgents, who this last week, maintained a spate of attacks against hard and soft targets in the northeast, causing loss of lives.

Reacting to the recent deadly attacks by the insurgents on Damboa in Borno State, Dapchi in Yobe State and Garkida in Adamawa State, Ekhomu said the terrorists were becoming more emboldened by the defensive strategy adopted in the ongoing counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

He stated: “We must take the fight to the insurgents to disrupt their cadence. Obviously, Boko Haram/ISWAP has developed an elaborate battle plan, which it executes in attack after attack. We need a new offensive to keep them off-balance and therefore save innocent Nigerian lives.”

SMBLF warned that “reintegrating terrorists who are still causing funerals daily is creating unsafe corridor and a backhand service for evil,” adding: “As if in protest against United States (US) President Donald Trump placing some bounty on the head of Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, the Buhari regime has decided to recycle another over 600 Boko Haram activists under the repulsive ‘Operation Safe Corridor.”

It stated that the fresh batch of 606 Boko Haram fighters is to be reunited with their families after undergoing so-called rehabilitation under Federal Government’s ‘Operation Safe Corridor, as announced by the Coordinator of the programme, Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting to work out modalities for transferring the rehabilitated repentant terrorists to their national and state governments.

“The insensitivity of the administration in its dealings with Boko Haram has only confirmed what we have gathered from those who shared detention facilities with the terrorists that they are treated like VIP, with cable TVs in their cells and allegedly getting married in their supposed detention.

“The whole world must now ask this government to tell us the pact it has with Boko Haram to be lionising terrorists this way. To continue with this is to be telling Nigerians to see the finger of the government in every blood the group sheds.”

Ekhomu advised the federal government to mount a determined offensive this spring, so that there would be peace this summer.He decried the release of former Boko Haram fighters, saying the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ programme is merely recycling fighters for the war, as there is no evidence of the successful deradicalisation claimed.

He said peace is a necessary precursor to development and urged the government to bring the war to a quick end, so that the rebuilding process could commence.

He urged the federal government to adopt the risk-mapping methodology, which indicates that from the risk identification bucket (problem-sensing protocol), it is clear that the insurgent attacks are increasing in frequency, geo-spatial terms and ferocity, warning: “The present strategy of taking body blows will result in more body bags.”

According to him, the continuous killings by the insurgents was doing irreparable reputational harm to Nigeria; hence he advised the federal government against making excuses that Boko Haram attacks soft targets.

He said that due to the frequency of the killings of Nigerians by the Boko Haram, public outrage and outcry against their atrocities have given way to acceptance, a situation he described as “very sad.”