The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said the Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC), has handed over 86 Boko Haram child fighters who voluntarily surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu.
Defence spokesman, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, said they were handed over in an effort to ensure that minors and other repentant Boko Haram fighters in the North East are given the necessary support and opportunity to embrace peace.
He said following the handover, the repentant child fighters would undergo a comprehensive Child Care Programme sponsored and organized by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
He said the child fighters who are between ages 10 – 19 are part of over 1,370 Boko Haram fighters who have so far surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
He explained that after thorough profiling and screening, the minors were considered suitable for the 6 months De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) programme.
Nwachukwu said arrangement is also ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to Operation Safe Corridor for DRR Programme.
He added that the handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo and a UNICEF official, Mr Clement Adams.
Operation Safe Corridor is a Defence Headquarters-led non-kinetic multi-national and multi-agency humanitarian operation conducted in tandem with extant international humanitarian laws to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North East to shun violent extremism.
The operation is designed to also de-radicalize, rehabilitate and re-integrate repentant Boko Haram combatants who willingly surrender to troops.
Nwachukwu said the scheme is a global model that enjoys collaboration and support from local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as well as Multi-national Organisations.
They include; United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and North East Regional Initiative (NERI).
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), calls on willing Boko Haram fighters to abandon their futile struggle and surrender to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
He added that those who voluntarily surrender to troops are guaranteed of safety and will benefit from the Operation Safe Corridor de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programme.