Now that Nigeria is making headway against Boko Haram, it faces a new challenge created by terrorists who voluntarily surrender their weapons. How can the country reintegrate the former fighters into society and ensure they won’t become a future security threat?
The current solution involves a rehabilitation camp established by the Nigerian military to repatriate surrendered Boko Haram fighters and encourage others to abandon the insurgency.
Operation Safe Corridor will take the terrorists through various vocational training sessions to help them become productive citizens, said Defense Ministry spokesman Rabe Abubakar. He urged other fighters still on the loose to surrender and benefit from the program.
“The final onslaught against the remnant group of the terrorists would continue unabated and would not relent until the power of evil forces in the northeast is completely neutralized,” Abubakar warned in a written statement.
In recent months, Nigeria’s military said several fighters surrendered at its bases, emaciated and begging for food, after it blocked food supply routes to the terrorists’ camps.
Nigeria’s previous administration, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, set up de-radicalization programs in at least two prisons. But local authorities have not said whether those programs have continued, and analysts note their efficacy is unproven.
“It was about some religious leaders engaging in dialogue with Boko Haram insurgents, trying to have another religious narrative,” said William Assanvo, a terrorism expert with the Institute for Security Studies in Dakar, Senegal. “We don’t know how effective and efficient this program has been so far.”
Boko Haram’s leaders scoff at calls to surrender. In a video circulating around social media last week, nine masked men holding AK-47s in an unknown location said the insurgent group offers no truce or negotiations. Local forces have seized a majority of the territory once held by Boko Haram, but the terror group continues to launch attacks.
“Boko Haram’s capability to fight has significantly been affected and it’s not in a position to engage in confrontation, but I think Boko Haram still presents a threat,” Assanvo said.
In addition to working with surrendered militants, the Nigerian government is struggling to process thousands of former Boko Haram captives. At least 11,595 civilians have been rescued across the region during the past six weeks by multinational troops, according to the Nigerian army. The troops temporarily resettled many of the freed women and children in camps for internally displaced persons.
“The troops in the course of these clearance operations, would continue to place high premium on respect for human right and dignity, hence the rescue operations,” army spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: April 8, 2016