Why we’ve not released 150 ex-Boko Haram members, by Col. Martins

February 20th, 2019

Commandant of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) Camp in Mallam Sidi, Gombe State, Colonel Beyidi Martins, has said that 150 de-radicalized ex-Boko Haram members, cannot be discharged now because of the resurgent attacks in the North East. Equally, affected State Governments and other stakeholders are addressing inherent bureaucratic issues, reports AHMED DAN-MONGNO, Maiduguri

A De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) programme was the outcome of a National Se­curity Council meeting of September 2015, conceived to facilitate safe passage of willing insurgents. Over 2,000 have surrendered just as 200 were recorded in Borno State last week.

Col. Martins said 260 have been treated compris­ing the pilot set of six as­sociated and long detained persons. Another batch of 95 graduated in Febru­ary 2018 and handed over to their states-Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe, are fully re-integrated and gainfully re-settled.

The last set comprising 150 repentant insurgents graduated on November 24, 2018 are still in the camp due to recent attacks but will be released to their states who have expressed willingness to accept and re-integrate them as the situation improves.

OPSC is a joint multi-national humanitarian op­eration in line with Inter­national Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, con­ceived as a soft strategy to break the ranks and fight­ing will of Boko Haram.

A high-powered OPSC Committee at the national level has the Chief of De­fence Staff, General Abayo­mi Gabriel Olonisakin as Chairman with Governors Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspec­tor General of Police, a Di­rector from Office of the National Security Adviser, Director General State Se­curity Service, Chief of De­fence Intelligence and the Director General National Emergency Management Agency, as members.

Colonel Martins lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision, General Olonisakin’s doggedness and the phenomenal lead­ership of Major Gen BM Shafa, the programme’s pioneer Coordinator.

Col. Martins disclosed that those that had been re­leased are within watching distance, saying that neces­sary monitoring, tracking and tracing are ongoing in­volving over 375 staff draft­ed into OPSC from 13 ma­jor Federal Government’s agencies including the Of­fice of the National Securi­ty Adviser, Nigeria Prisons Service, National Identity Management Commission, Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force, De­partment of State Services, Nigeria Immigration Ser­vice and the Nigeria Securi­ty and Civil Defence Corps.

Others are the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National Emergency Man­agement Agency, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, National Orienta­tion Agency, National Di­rectorate of Employment and National Youth Service Corps.

He stated this against in­creasing public interest in the activities of OPSC fol­lowing unsubstantiated al­legations of espionage in some quarters linking the resurgent Boko Haram at­tacks in Borno State to some of the released ex-members.

Reacting, he deplored the development, saying that those making the al­legations lacked sufficient information about OPSC. He spoke to reporters while departing for the Kofi Anan International Peace-keeping Training Institute, Accra Ghana.

He categorically ruled out possible contact between Boko Haram and the re­pentant ex-members, ar­guing that they displayed satisfactory conduct in the Camp while undergoing series of strict procedures for 52 weeks.

‘’The clients-as we call them- are now better in­formed and transformed spiritually, socially and psychologically about their new roles in the so­ciety. They showed serious remorse for where they found themselves. Profil­ing them, we discovered that this particular set did not willingly join Boko Ha­ram but were serially sub­jected to intimidation, co­ercion and drugging. They got to know about OPSC so they willingly escaped from the bush crossed to our forces as an opportu­nity to be reformed and re-join the country.

‘’Over 90 per cent of them got to camp virtu­ally empty except the hope and lifeline which the pro­gramme offered and they are very enthusiastic about it. They graduated with vocational skills in shoe making and leather works, farming, poultry, weld­ing, tailoring, soap making and cosmetology, barbing, furniture and other skills being expanded for new intakes. I doubt if they can be spies for Boko Haram’’, said Colonel Martins.

He maintained that af­ter swearing to oath of al­legiance before a Sharia/High Court Judge to be law abiding as part of the tracking measures, they cannot work for Boko Ha­ram.

Besides, they have un­dertaken advanced mod­els of profiling by the In­ternational Organization for Migrations (IOM), a reputable United Nations agency that sources sup­port services from USAID, DFID, France and Nether­lands, etc including starter packs and take-off grants. They are enrolled in NDE Skills Acquisition Centres in their respective states to continue the training.

He noted while they were transferred to their respective states and com­munities, security agencies use cutting-edge technol­ogy to track, monitor and trace them with their DNA samples already deposited at the DNA Laboratory of the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

‘’They are registered on the National Identity Card System and issued Nation­al Identity cards with spe­cial code upon discharge after undergoing detailed debriefing by the Camp In­telligence Cell to elicit in­formation to aid their inte­gration process and other future security purposes’’, he explained.

He described OPSC as Nigeria’s most unique and viable non-military coun­ter-terrorism offensive rat­ed in Africa as an eloquent testament of its total com­mitment to global peace, order and security.

Weighing in, Maj Gen. Shafa said: ‘’Global events have proved that wars are never always won on the battle field. The efficacy of strategies to break the en­emy’s fighting will is im­portant. Your whole weap­onry may not dislodge the enemy that has the will to fight. You have to break the will. This is where the Fed­eral Government is win­ning terrorism with Opera­tion Safe Corridor’’.

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