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Boko Haram reintegration: A good step, difficult to embrace

It’s on record that the military had in 2016 launched Operation Safe Corridor, an initiative mainly for the deradicalisation and rehabilitation of ex-Boko Haram members.…

It’s on record that the military had in 2016 launched Operation Safe Corridor, an initiative mainly for the deradicalisation and rehabilitation of ex-Boko Haram members. It was said that the aim of the operation is to reintegrate repentant Boko Haram members into society.

Following the launch of the operation, it was gathered that many insurgents surrendered themselves to security operatives as repentant Boko Haram members seeking rehabilitation and reintegration.

It’s also obvious that many people didn’t support the idea of reintegrating the terrorists back into the community as a result of their barbaric acts.

Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa.  In 2009, Boko Haram carried out spates of attacks on police stations and other government buildings in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. Since the insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index.

The rehabilitation and reintegration process by the federal government is indeed commendable because a reintegration program will prevent insurgent(s) or incarcerated persons from committing another crime by helping that person secure a good job. It’ll also encourage other members to repent but the questions here are; can the society embrace them? Will the repentant members resist the discriminations and stigmatization that will be meted against them?

It was gathered that one of the reintegrated members recently released went back to his community with some papers believed to be government clearance paper but unfortunately, the reaction of the people of that community was, as expected. Total rejection and condemnation of the authorities who released him back into the community. This followed a video that went viral of the gruesome murder of the humanitarian aid workers that were released by Boko Haram and sadly, one of those killed was from the same area where a repentant member is expected to be reintegrated, community members, however, expressed total dissatisfaction.

While gathering people’s opinion, many suggested that “instead of the government to rehabilitate and reintegrate the insurgents, why not the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were affected by the activities of the terrorist?” While other observers maintain  that “Those who kill by the sword need to be given the same treatment.” They posited that it was a terrible idea in the first place because it’s not a good initiative because of its baseless and unfounded foundation. This is because hundreds of IDPs with cognate experience need re-training and skillful orientations, which at a turn will be beneficial to the society and to the government at large.

Never will a killer, rapist, and abductor who has left terrible memories be welcomed back into society. Anyone who is sentimental on this issue is far from the truth. Imagine you had your children murdered, your wife raped and killed. The culprits are arrested and the government tells you he is now repentant, while you are still at an IDP camp, your family disorganised, struggling for food and the government then feeds, clothes and educates the culprits and also give him money to start a business to come and be your neighbour”.

Though, it’s obvious that whoever repents means he/she feel or express sincere regret or remorse about a wrongdoing or sin committed and that is why it’s good for the society to embrace all and sundry by forgiving and forgetting what they have done in order to ensure lasting peace in the country.

Abdulmuminu Kolo Gulani, writes from Maiduguri