‘I’ll pursue bill to establish national agency for Ex- Boko Harams to logical conclusion’

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Boko Haram, Pandemonium as Boko Haram attacks Chibok community
Boko Haram fighters

…Says Amnesty is for those who came out Voluntarily to lay down Arms, Many more want to Surrender

…Assures that it will promote National Security

…Admits that Britain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq have formulated various models of deradicalization of people in similar situations

By Henry Umoru

SPONSOR of a Bill to establish a National Agency that would be saddled with among others, the responsibility of educating, rehabilitating, de- radicalization and integration of ex- Boko Haram insurgents, said yesterday that he would pursue the process to a logical conclusion.

This is coming on the heels of criticisms already trailing the proposed Amnesty for former Boko Haram Insurgents from some Nigerians.

Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, former Governor of Yobe State, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, All Progressives Congress, APC, Yobe East said that proposed Amnesty would be for repentant Boko Haram Insurgents who have laid down their arms, just as he said that many Boko Haram members want to surrender because of the planned amnesty.

He said, “Those who have become weary of the perpetual violence and have voluntarily laid down their arms and defected from the group will be accepted and rehabilitated using various tools of deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration. In contrast, those captured active in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process.”

According to Senator Gaidam, the proposed Amnesty will promote National Security as well as allow the government  derive insider-information about the insurgency group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings.

He said that the concept of deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration are global practice, adding, ” Lots of countries, including Britain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq have formulated various models of deradicalization and rehabilitation programs to combat the menace of radicalization with significant measure of success.”

The Senator explained that the Amnesty programme will also assist the government in gaining a greater understanding of the insurgents will enable the government to study the needs of deradicalization effort, improve the process and address the immediate concerns of violence and also enable the Government to use the defectors to fight the unrepentant insurgents

Recall that the Bill titled, ” National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De- radicalization and Integration of repentant Insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB.340) was read the first time last week Thursday at Senate plenary.

Speaking further, Senator Gaidam said that the  agency will help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the program will allow some repentant defectors or suspect terrorists to express remorse over their actions, repent and recant their violent doctrine and in the long run, re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.

He said, the Programme will “Help combat future recruitments. If defectors told their stories and were made more public, their experiences would play a key role in countering Terrorist propaganda, which in turn would lessen the appeal of joining the group.

“Help undercut the costs of incarceration and ensure individuals who would otherwise have lives entrenched in criminality become productive members of society. Help to render extremist movements obsolete by undermining the foundations upon which these movements are built.”

According to him, “In dealing with the insurgency, Nigerian Government needs to introduce both preventive and corrective measures in addressing violent extremism. The challenge today is to ensure repentant terrorists are rehabilitated in the best possible way so that they become useful members of the society.”

Senator Gaidam further said that “In view of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency is becoming increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians, resulting in continued infliction of massive casualty on innocent citizens, particularly in northeastern Nigeria, it has become necessary for us to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach, in addition to the military option which has so far performed significantly well.

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“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgents’ group have defected and many more are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this is confirmed by many organizations including NGO’s that have unalloyed access to the Boko Haram.

“There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realizing the futility of the course they are pursuing have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace. Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, Deradicalization and reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate the defectors.

“The Agency when established, shall be charged with the responsibility of the planning, designing and organizing specialized programs aimed at deradicalizing, rehabilitating and reintegrating defectors and repentant insurgents.

“These specialized programs which will serve as mechanisms for disengagement from terrorist’s ideology and invalidate the recourse to violence will focus on ideological, religious, educational, vocational, social, creative arts therapy, sports and recreation and psychological issues that cause violent extremism.

“It should be noted that the deradicalization and rehabilitation process for former members of Boko Haram will vary on a case-to-case basis.

The Senator said that “The main objective of this Bill is to among others; Provide an avenue for rehabilitating, deradicalizing, and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and forcefully conscripted members of the insurgent group Boko Haram to make them useful members of the society.Provide an avenue for reconciliation and promote national security.

“Provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, especially in the face of the military pressure.”

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