The devastation of displacement, lives, livelihoods and property in Nigeria’s North East region caused by more than 10 years of insurgency by the Boko Haram terrorists is a subject of security, policy, humanitarian and academic concern to all well meaning Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike.
However, Nigeria’s de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration, DRR programme for ex-Boko Haram fighters, known as Operation Safe Corridor, OSC has come a long way in lending support to government’s efforts to encourage insurgents to drop their arms and embrace peace.
Only doubting Thomas’s would play blind, deaf and dumb to the fact that Government’s operations aimed at forcing Boko Haram to surrender in droves are handsomely paying off.
The level of successes recorded so far was attested to by several Nigerians and foreign security analysts and experts. Among them is Confidence MacHarry, a geopolitical security analyst at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence who not too long ago told PREMIUM TIMES that the wave of mass repentance is an indication of policy success”.
Nigeria’s Department of State Services, DSS launched ‘Operation Sulhu’ secretly in 2019. It was aimed at getting repentant Boko Haram commanders to lay down their arms and also persuade their colleagues to surrender.
Operation Sulhu, an initiative of the DSS and Operation Safe Corridor, OSC an initiative of the Nigerian Military were to get members of the dreaded insurgents to repent and benefit from the rehabilitation programmes being genuinely planned, executed and handled by the Nigerian government in a camp in Bauchi.
Several counter-measures have been adopted by both state and non-state actors, within and outside the shores of Nigeria, to combat insurgency. These measures were more pronounced particularly during the President Muhammadu Buhari years and have recorded landmark verifiable achievements.
Nigeria’s de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration, DRR programme for ex-Boko Haram fighters as contained in its Operation Safe Corridor, has made giant strides since its establishment in 2016 because of the support the PMB administration has provided so far.
Constant Military onslaught by Air power and ground troops on the terrorists hideouts in Sambisa forest and elsewhere has reportedly led to the death of many of the insurgents, while some of them have reportedly surrendered to the army.
The Nigerian Army had recently in a statement by its spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, announced that no fewer than 1,000 Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP members had laid down their arms and surrendered to the troops.
It is on record that the Borno State Governor, while welcoming the over 1,000 repentant insurgents, added that it was ready to accept and reintegrate them into society but urged host communities to accept the ex-fighters as one of their own.
By way of breaking news, the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Bernard Onyeuko had also confirmed to Channels Television that 104 ISWAP fighters, and their families have surrendered to own troops In Borno.
It is very heart-warming and another sign of relief to Nigerians the way the Defence spokesman said that troops in the North East have “continued to gain successes” over the activities of ISWAP fighters in the region.
Im the words of General Bernard, ‘this followed the week-long sustained aerial attacks by military fighter aircraft, including a Super Tucano of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF that raided ISWAP camps in the area.
The all encompassing OSC programme was designed as a counter insurgency approach aimed at rehabilitating low-risk repentant Boko Haram fighters and reintegrating them back into society.
The rehabilitation programme involves vocational training, religious instructions, access to de_radicalisation and civic programmes.
Reports coming into the media space have similarly indicated that the authorities in neighbouring Cameroon have confirmed that more than 260 of the group’s members have turned themselves in at a de-radicalisation centre in the North of the country.
Meanwhile, Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum’s position that 90 per cent of repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East zone of the country are truly remorseful former terrorists should not be taken lightly.
The Governor had announced this after the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons , IDPs in the North East.
In its analysis of the situation, the Buhari Media Organisation, BMO in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, noted that the revelation by Borno State Governor is a testimony to the fact that the strategies being deployed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration are working.
According to the BMO, “most of the terrorists are being smoked out of their holes in the Sambisa forest. Similarly, it is remarkable that many of the terrorists are scampering to safety due to the firepower of the military that the President has unleashed on them.
“We also believe that the kinetic and non-kinetic approaches being used by the military in executing the war against terrorism are working well, and eventually the same tactics will be deployed to the bandits in the North-West zone of the country”.
BMO strongly believe “that what all these point to is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to fully restore peace in the restive North East and North West zones will come to pass”.
It is our prayer that the security challenges facing all parts of the country be overcome soonest in the interest of peace, unity, prosperity and development.