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Accept repentant Boko Haram members or they go back to terrorism, presidency tells Nigerians

Valentine Chinyem

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The Presidency has dismissed rumours currently in circulationg in the country that some repentant Boko Haram members who were recently de-radicalised were absorbed into the Nigeria military.

According to the government, the programme enjoys the support of international organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations.

In a statement titled, “Serious leaders must not fall for fake news on repentant terrorists – Presidency”, Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, urged Nigerians not to reject repentant fighters unless they want the terrorists to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they have repented.

The statement reads: “Now that groups with hitherto proven bona fides, some religious leaders and a few in the legislature have joined the supply chain of fake news, it is important that we step in to clear the false reports that the administration is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military.

“None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military. This is the fourth such graduation of repentant Boko Haram fighters and not one of such graduates has been absorbed into the military.

“The public needs to be reassured that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists of the Buhari administration code named ‘Operation Safe Corridor’, follows an established example from countries with similar experiences, and is supported academically and materially by the European Union and the United Nations.

“The lead agency for the implementation of the programme in Gombe is the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization which is represented in Nigeria.

“It’s also important to note that this programme does not have a place for hard boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force”