No fewer than 281 former Boko Haram fighters have been taken through a 52-week “psycho-spiritual counselling and pyscho-therapy” under the Operation Safe Corridor programme being run by the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, in Gombe State.
The Defence Headquarters confirmed this figure to Punch exclusively, noting that the aim of the programme, which began in September 2015, was to “encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists to surrender and go through a structured deradicalisation process.”
281 terrorists had reportedly passed through the Operation Safe Corridor in Gombe State and taken through spiritual and vocational counselling.
The military also noted that arrangements were underway to admit “another set of over 650 surrendered Boko Haram terrorists for the deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme.”
In a document, the DHQ said, “The Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, established Operation Safe Corridor in September 2015 to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram combatants to surrender and go through a structured deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme. The objective of the operation is to deplete the fighting force of the terrorists.
“The ex-combatants go through a 52-week programme involving psycho-spiritual counselling, psycho-therapy, recreation, drug use intervention, introduction to western education and vocational training. In the course of the programme, visitation by families and prominent personalities are organised to promote confidence and ensure smooth reintegration. The ex-combatants also appear before a Quasi-Judicial Panel where they confess their past deeds, denounce membership of the Boko Haram and swear an oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Since inception, 281 ex-combatants and associated persons have gone through the programme out of which 254, including two Chadians have been successfully transferred to their country and states for re-integration. It is on record that no adverse report has been received concerning any of these persons. Arrangements are underway to admit another set of over 650 surrendered terrorists for the DRR Programme.”