By Peter Uwumarogie/Gombe
The Nigerian Army on Saturday released 601 ex-Boko Haram members after undergoing six months de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration (DRR) programme in Gombe State.
The graduation ceremony of the ex-insurgents took place on Saturday at Malam Sidi community in Kwami Local Government Area of the state.
Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, the Coordinator of Operation Safe Corridor (OSC), said the ex-insurgents were ready to be re-integrated into the society.
Shafa said that the graduating batch four clients were admitted in December 2019 and within the six months undertook a comprehensive medical test to ascertain their health status that enabled their proper care.
According to him, out of the 606 clients received into the camp; 601 were graduating, three died, one was withdrawn from the programme while the last one was transferred to the Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Maiduguri.
He explained that the three that died had terminal illnesses they already had before coming to camp, while the one withdrawn was on disciplinary grounds for further investigation.
The OSC coordinator also said that the clients graduating for re-integration into the society comprised 587 Nigerians and 14 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic.
He added that the clients had appeared before a quasi-judicial panel, which according to him was a major requirement, before their reintegration into the society.
He stated that the essence of the panel was for the clients to denounce membership of Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, confess their past misdeeds and take an oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said that the huge number of clients who willingly surrendered to the Federal Government’s programme was a good sign of peace for the country.
In his remarks, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, said the DRR programme was a working strategy complementing the efforts of the Federal Government toward restoring peace in the Northeast.
Olonisakin, represented by Rear Adm. Vincent Okeke, the Director of Education, Defence Headquarters; Olonisakin said the clients acquired different skills and would be provided funds and starter packs to enable them earn a living and start new lives.
The CDS commended the Federal Government’s efforts in ensuring peace and called on ” Boko Haram and ISWAP members still lurking around in the bush to lay down their arms, embrace peace and join the DRR programme.”
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said the Federal Government was committed to the peace and the development of the Northeast.
Umar-Farouq represented by her Head of Special Services, Hajia Nadia Mohammed, said that the Federal Government’s commitment to peace led to the establishment of the Northeast Development Commission.
” The commission was established to expedite the rehabilitation and the development of the Northeast,” she said.
Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno lauded the Federal Government’s efforts in the de-radicalisation of ex-insurgents to make them better members of the society.
Zulum represented by his Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mr Kaka Lawan, said that the Borno Government was ready to welcome those willing to surrender and give peace a chance.
” Those refusing to surrender, I want to assure you that their days are numbered as the armed forces will soon get them,” he said.
On behalf of the clients, Babagana Mai-Ramri appreciated the Federal Government and the Borno State Government for efforts towards making ex-insurgents useful to the society.
While promising to be good ambassadors of the country, Mai-Ramri appealed to those still fighting in the bush to denounce their membership of the terrorist group and embrace peace.
Also today, the North East Development Commission (NEDC), supported the 601 rehabilitated Boko-Haram members with starter packs and work tools.
Malam Abba Musa, Head of Cooperate Services of NEDC, made the presentation on behalf of the Managing Director, Malam Mohammed Alkali during the graduation ceremony .
Musa said the items donated included Welding Machines,Carpentry tools, Barbing kits and Generators, Washing Machines and Cosmetology.
He said the aim of the presentation was to support the former combatants to be self employed because they were going back to their communities after their training in camp.
He urged the beneficiaries to use the for the purposes they were meant for, to become employers of labour in future.