leader, responsible for operating several bandit camps in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna state, ‘Yellow’ has been killed following Nigerian Airforce airstrikes in Katsina and Zamfara states which killed scores of the bandits last weekend.
An octogenarian victim of Yellow’s gang who was held captive for 62 days in the bandit’s camp (name withheld) told troops who carried out land operations to rescue abducted persons in the camp that Yellow was killed along with several other bandits’ commanders.
This is just as the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations; Major General John Enenche disclosed that since the inception of Operation Safe Corridor in 2016 for repentant Boko Haram terrorists, 893 ex-combatants have been admitted for the Programme out of which 280 including two Chadians have been successfully reintegrated back into the society through their respective national and state authorities.
“Presently, there are 603 of them undergoing the DRR Programme and would be graduating by July 2020”, he said.
Noting that contrary to what many are thinking, that Operation Safe is a success story as feedbacks from those reintegrated are positive.
Enenche said, “The concept of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) is that of a unique non-kinetic operation aimed at giving hope to ex-combatants who willingly give up their arms to embrace peace.
“It is a Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led multi-agency humanitarian effort based on De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) of ex-combatant Boko Haram members that willingly surrender, which was established in September 2015 and became operational in 2016.
“Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) is guided by among other provisions such as International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws.
“It is being administered by 468 staff drawn from 17 organisations including the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), Law Enforcement and Security Agencies, other Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including North East Development Commission (NEDC) as well as locals from Gombe, where the DRR camp is located.
“The scheme also enjoys widespread collaboration and support of local and international NGOs.
He listed the key implementation partners as, United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Others are the Department for International Development (DFID) Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), and the North-East Regional Initiative (NERI).
Pointing out that de-radicalisation is the first stage of the programme after medical screening including taking of DNA sample is conducted, the Coordinator said, “It covers; psychotherapy, psycho-spiritual counseling, drug abuse intervention, art therapy, sports/recreation and introduction to western education to counter the BHT ideology.
“The rehabilitation package of the programme include; training in barbing, carpentry, cosmetology, farming, leatherworks, shoemaking, tailoring and welding. They will be issued with starter packs (basic tools) and provided with take-off funds.
He said the reintegration aspect of the DRR programme is the most delicate and longest phase that lasts beyond the camp.
“It entails transitional justice initiative involving family linkage with the assistance of IOM and UNICEF among others.
“Administration of Oath of Allegiance is also conducted at this stage. The panel is headed by a judge of the Federal High Court with members drawn for relevant agencies.
Furthermore, Gen Enenche said, “Gleaning from the concept and conduct of Operation Safe Corridor, it is not a process of assembling raw repentant ex-combatants to inject back into the society by the Military.
Rather, it is an international best practice for conflict management backed by relevant laws with the concurrence of key stakeholders such as international organizations and MDAs among others.
He cited as success, particular repentant terrorists in Bama who under operation safe corridor learnt barbing as a vocation and has successfully empowered 4 locals and is happily married with children.
In his contribution at the briefing, Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Major General Bamidele Shaffa disagreed with those saying the federal government through the programme was being unfair by giving so-called repented terrorists special and favourable treatment while the victims who escaped their attacks and killings were suffering in IDP camps.
Shaffa said there are so many other intervention programmes of government aimed at ameliorating the suffering of displaced persons as well as rebuilding communities, like the North East Development Commission and the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management among others.