The key stakeholders working to Counter Violent Extremism in Nigeria’s Northeast, have urged Federal Government to refocus its Rehabilitation and Reintegration(R&R) Programmes to address the needs of both perpetrators and victims of Boko Haram insurgency rather than the current attention on repentant terrorists and suspects.
This was the outcome of the workshop in Abuja on the validation and public presentation of baseline findings of the survey on mechanisms in rehabilitation and Reintegration vis a vis legitimacy made available to journalists on Friday by the National Coordinator, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)-Nigeria, Mrs. Brigdet Osakwe.
The event was organised by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in collaboration (ICCT) and WANEP-Nigeria in collaboration with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research with participants drawn from the Office of the Vice President, Nigeria police Force (NPF) , Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Local Government, Traditional and Religious Council, CSOs, as well as women and youth leaders.
Osakwe stated that rehabilitation and reintegration was most crucial to women and vulnerable individuals who are mostly affected by violence across the world.
“Internally we are looking at women returnees, some women come back pregnant and then they have children. So how is the community accepting them and the women they came back with and we are very pertinent in that aspect of it. To this we are going to factor it very strongly in the report,” she said.
In the same vein a researcher at the WANEP, Ms. Isioma Nkemakolam, said the stakeholders noted that the focus of R&R initiatives was solely on the perpetrator, while the rights of victims and citizens were placed in competition with the rights of former extremists.
Nkemakolam said the stakeholders called for a community-based, victim-centered approach to R&R.
In Countering Violent Extremism ( CVE), She urged government to ensure all ratified international and regional legal instruments are incorporated in any R&R framework.
Nkemakolam also called on government to work in close cooperation with NGOs and CSOs in the development and implementation of national R&R frameworks.
Further, Nkemakolam explained that the stakeholders expressed concern that unemployment poverty, apathy to the plight of the people, and poor education had contributed to the rise of violent extremism in Nigeria’s North East (NE) region.
She said, “Politicians in the North East region have leveraged religion as a tool to recruit the unemployed, and that such politicians had been complicit in the arming of Boko Haram.
To this end, she stressed the need to empower the youth to be economically independent. According to her, when youths are gainfully employed, the chances of them being used as perpetrators of violence will greatly reduce.
Nkemakolam also urged Stakeholders to take responsibility for ensuring that perpetrators of violence were held accountable for their actions.
‘This should be done through the strengthening of judicial and legal processes,” she said.