Senate introduces bill to create agency for repentant Boko Haram members

The Senate Thursday began deliberations on a bill that seeks to establish an agency that would see to the rehabilitation, deradicalisation and integration of repentant insurgents in the country.

A bill, sponsored by Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe East senatorial district, was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate Thursday.

Already a subject of fierce push back, the bill offers further concession to Boko Haram militants who choose to cease fire.

Last month, the Nigerian military said no fewer than 608 repentant Boko Haram insurgents were undergoing the De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme under its Operation Safe Corridor in Malam-Sidi, Gombe State.

Clients, the military euphemism for the repentant insurgents, were said to have been exposed to formal literacy classes, skills acquisition and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) as well as drug and psycho-therapists during their training.

A group of Borno elders, led by ex-governor Kashim Shettima, last year, had frowned at the initiative, saying the military’s operation was not well thought out.

They feared that releasing the purported repentant Boko Haram militants into civilian population could be counterproductive as hardened fighters would return to the terror group to commit more atrocities.

“The ongoing de-radicalization and reintegration of repentant Boko Haram insurgents under the “operation safe corridor” of the defense headquarters is a course for concern for members of the Civilian JTF and some stakeholders in the State,” the group wrote in a letter last year.

“(We) suspect that “Boko Haram members do not repent” hence the de-radicalization programme may be breeding spies and agents of recruitment for the Boko Haram,” they had said.

They urged the president to approve the suspension of the programme.

More Nigerians have also spoken against the policy.

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