Col. Martins: Why We’ve Not Released 150 ex-Boko Haram Members

By Editor on March 4, 2019

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Colonel Beyidi Martins

The Commandant of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) Camp in Mallam Sidi, Gombe State, Colonel Beyidi Martins, has said that 150 deradicalized ex-Boko Haram members cannot be discharged now because of the resurgent attacks in the North East.

Col.Martins said that 260 former insurgents had been treated comprising the pilot set of six associated and long detained persons. Another batch of 95 graduated in February 2018 and handed over to their states-Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe, are fully re-integrated and gainfully re-settled.

ex-Boko Haram Members

He said that the last set of 150 graduated on November 24, 2018 but were still in the camp because of the recent attacks in the North East but promised that they will be released to their states which have expressed willingness to accept and re-integrate them as the situation improves.  

The deradicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration (DRR) programme emerged in September 2015 at a National Security Council meeting conceived to facilitate safe passage of willing insurgents. Over 2,000 have surrendered just as 200 were reportedly recorded in Borno State last week.

OPSC is a joint multi-national humanitarian operation in line with international humanitarian and human rights laws and the Nigerian constitution, conceived as a soft strategy to break the ranks and fighting will of Boko Haram insurgents.

A high-powered OPSC Committee at the national level has the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin as Chairman with Governors Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector General of Police, a Director from Office of the National Security Adviser, Director General State Security Service, Chief of Defence Intelligence and the Director General National Emergency Management Agency, as members.

Lauding President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision, General Olonisakin’s doggedness and the phenomenal leadership of the pioneer coordinator, Major Gen BM Shafa, for the programme’s success, Martins affirmed that released former insurgents were under close watch with detailed monitoring, tracking and tracing being undertaken by over 375 staff from 13 critical agencies drafted into OPSC.

Involved are the Office of the National Security Adviser, Prisons, Police, DSS, Immigration, NDLEA, NEMA, National Identity Management Commission, Armed Forces, NOA, NYSC, NDE and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps,

He spoke against increasing public interest in the activities of OPSC following unsubstantiated allegations of espionage in some quarters linking the resurgent Boko Haram attacks in Borno State to some of the released ex-members.

He deplored the development, saying that those making the allegations lacked sufficient information about OPSC. He spoke to reporters while departing for the Kofi Anan International Peace-keeping Training Institute, Accra Ghana.

He categorically ruled out possible contact between Boko Haram and the repentant ex-members, arguing that they displayed satisfactory conduct in the Camp while undergoing series of strict procedures for 52 weeks.

‘’The clients-as we call them- are now better informed and transformed spiritually, socially and psychologically about their new roles in the society. They showed serious remorse for where they found themselves. We discovered that this particular set joined Boko Haram after serial intimidation, coercion and drugging. When they got to know about OPSC, they escaped from the bush and willingly surrendered to security forces.

‘’Over 90 per cent of them got to camp virtually empty except the hope which the programme offered and they are very enthusiastic about it. They graduated in vocational skills in shoe making and leather works, farming, poultry, welding, tailoring, soap making and cosmetology, barbing, furniture and other skills being expanded for new intakes. I doubt if they can be spies for Boko Haram’’, he said.

He maintained that after swearing to oath of allegiance before a Sharia/High Court Judge to be law abiding as part of the tracking measures, they cannot work for Boko Haram.

Besides, they have undertaken advanced models of profiling by the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), a reputable United Nations agency that sources support services from USAID, DFID, France and Netherlands, etc including starter packs and take-off grants. They are enrolled in NDE Skills Acquisition Centres in their respective states to continue the training.

He noted while they were transferred to their respective states and communities, security agencies use cutting-edge technology to track, monitor and trace them with their DNA samples already deposited at the DNA Laboratory of the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

‘’They are registered on the National Identity Card System and issued National Identity cards with special code upon discharge after undergoing detailed debriefing by the Camp Intelligence Cell to elicit information to aid their integration process and other future security purposes’’, he explained.

He described OPSC as Nigeria’s most unique and viable non-military counter-terrorism offensive rated in Africa as an eloquent testament of its total commitment to global peace, order and security.

Weighing in, Maj Gen. Shafa said: ‘’Global events have proved that wars are never always won on the battle field. The efficacy of strategies to break the enemy’s fighting will is important. Your whole weaponry may not dislodge the enemy that has the will to fight. You have to break the will. This is where the Federal Government is winning terrorism with Operation Safe Corridor’’.



Posted on March, 4 2019

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