The Presidency on Wednesday asked Nigerians not to reject repentant Boko Haram fighters unless they want the terrorists to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they’ve repented.
The presidency also dismissed as untrue, the insinuation that the current administration had been absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the Nigerian military.
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Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said in a statement that none of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms and had recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, was going into the military.
“At the point of their graduation, a determination is made that the former combatants have repented and are better citizens, imbued with genuine nationalism. They must no longer represent a danger to society or to themselves.
“Where they’re certified as such, communities have the duty of accepting them. Unless they want them to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they’ve repented, community leaders must work with the relevant agencies to end their rejection,” Shehu said in the statement.
The presidential aide added that no serious leaders must fall for fake news on repentant terrorists, stressing that “nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption.”
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration as a responsible one was conscious of its duty to the state and society, and to the victims of terror as well as to those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people.
The statement read: “Now that groups with hitherto proven bona fides, some religious leaders and a few in the legislature have joined the supply chain of fake news, it is important that we step in to clear the false reports that the administration is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military.
“None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military. This is the fourth such graduation of repentant Boko Haram fighters and not one of such graduates has been absorbed into the military.
“The public needs to be reassured that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists of the Buhari administration code named ‘Operation Safe Corridor’, follows an established example from countries with similar experiences, and is supported academically and materially by the European Union and the United Nations.
“The lead agency for the implementation of the programme in Gombe is the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization which is represented in Nigeria.
“It’s also important to note that this programme does not have a place for hard boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force”