Sunday Okobi and Emmanuel Ella
An advocacy group, Concerned Professionals Congress (CPC), has backed the initiative by Defence Headquarters to rehabilitate and re-integrate about 700 repentant Boko Haram insurgents into the society.
Under a programme known as Operation Safe Corridor, the federal government plans to pardon, train and rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram fighters who renounce violence.
Describing the initiative as novel, bold and courageous at â€˜this critical momentâ€™ in the developmental history of the nation, the civil advocacy group said the move would inspire hope, strengthen faith and restore confidence among Nigerians in the unity, stability and indivisibility of the country.
The groupâ€™s Coordinator, Tukur Tilde, and Chief Media Strategist, Emeka Nwapa, in a statement, said the move by the nationâ€™s military high command to de-radicalise the sectâ€™s repentant insurgents and offer them opportunity to contribute to the growth of the society would advance the frontiers of humanity in the nation.
Expressing regret at the incalculable but avoidable damage which Boko Haramâ€™s activities had done to the destinies of families, institutions, communities and careers in the past years of terrorism and insurgency, the group praised the armed forces of Nigeria under the present leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, for the initiative.
According to Musa Tilde in the statement, â€œWe have reviewed the situation in the Northeast regarding the militaryâ€™s offer to de-radicalize and rehabilitate repentant ex-Boko Haram members.
â€œWe believe Operation Safe Corridor being executed alongside Operation Crackdown and Operation Rescue Final had tipped off the sectâ€™s final defeat as the basis to fast-track the peace process in the region. As a nation blessed with a people imbued with the spirit to forgive and forgo wrongs done, this initiative has further demonstrated the essence of our oneness which we want the entire world to recognise.
â€œWe are even more pleased with the large-heartedness, commitment, patriotic gesture and support of communities where these laudable programmes are implemented for the ex-combatants.
â€œParticipating in the rehabilitation process are clerics, imams, pastors, social workers and psychologists as well as government agencies such as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) (which has been donating food and non-food relief items worth millions of naira), the National Directorate of Employment (whose vocational skills centres are being mobilised for the exercise in Maiduguri), the Prisons, Immigration and the NDLEA.â€™â€™
In addition, the CPC praised the armed forces for the patriotic and gallant efforts of its troops in alliance with other security forces to downgrade Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast, thereby setting the stage for robust global interest for rebuilding programmes.
It further observed that Operation Safe Corridor offers the nation and its citizens an opportunity of reinventing and reinforcing its unity, sovereignty and indivisibility in line with the aspirations, dreams and philosophy of one nation, one destiny of its founding fathers.
Furthermore, the group noted that Liberia and Sierra Leone were instances of countries with worse cases of crimes and criminality committed by citizens against fellow citizens as well as felony against the state, but today they are living in admirable peace and harmony because the ex-combatants surrendered and were de-radicalised, rehabilitated and re-integrated by their people into the society.