Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Nigerian Army has released 183 children who were formerly involved with Boko Haram insurgency to the Borno State Government and representatives of the United Nations.
The latest release, made the total number of kids earlier involved in Boko Haram insurgency released by the military to about 2,000.
The kids whose age ranges from seven to 16, were released by the head of the military counter-insurgency in the North-east, Commander, â€˜Operation Lafiya Doleâ€™, Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, representing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
He handed over the 183 kids, including eight girls who were used as bomb couriers, to officials of Borno State and United Nations.
Representing Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, was ommissioner for Women Affairs, Hon. Fanta Baba Shehu, and representing the United Nations was Ibrahim Sesay, who stood in for Mr. Edward Kallon, Country Representative of UN and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria.
Speaking at the handing over of the kids, Nicholas said the decision was taken to hand them over for proper management of their reintegration.
He said they had been in the custody of the Nigerian Army for sometimes, noting that the military has been working with the UN Children Fund on similar issue so as to ensure there was no relapse in the cases of the children.
Baba-Shehu expressed the appreciation of Borno State Government and people to the military under Buratai for giving the people of Borno State â€œfree air.â€
She also said the Borno people would remain indebted to the UN and its agencies for being there for the state in the time of need.
Baba-shehu promised the newly-released kids that they would be looked after and made to get the best during rehabilitation.
On his part, Sesay said the release was a significant moment.
He said: â€œThere has been great working relationship between UN system and the Nigerian Army.
Sesay said with the latest release, it is estimated at 2,000, stressing that the UN would work with all stakeholders to ensure that the kids are reintegrated back to the society.
He said the transformation process of the kids was a long process and that the release was the first step, adding that providing them with needed tools for reintegration, follows next.
Sesay said there were over 7000 children in the ongoing reintegration plan of the UN in the area.