No plan to integrate repentant terrorists into nation’s security forces ― CDS

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on Tuesday, debunked the speculation making the rounds that Operation Safe Corridor graduates were being recruited by the nation’s security forces, describing it as false.

Gen Irabor who was represented by Chief of Defence Training and Operation, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, made this disclosure while delivering the keynote address at the Operation Safe Corridor stakeholders’ meeting at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.

He declared that none of the over 1,000 rehabilitated Nigerians by Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) would be recruited into the armed forces or sister security services due to stringent safeguards in place to prevent such recruitment.

He expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the outcomes with OPSC activities so far, which had continued to improve its programmes, principles, practices and procedures over the years.

According to him, “today, this initiative has become a model that has been replicated in all the Lake Chad Basin countries. It has also elicited the interest of both local and international bodies including academia.

“The DRR Programmes consists of psychological humanitarian treatments that reassure and provide alternatives to low-profile combatants through psycho-social/psycho-spiritual therapies, recreations, vocational training, and introductory western education, thereby countering Boko Haram terrorists /Islamic West Africa Province ideologies and reducing their recruitment drive while depleting the critical mass of their fighting forces.”

He revealed that the programme had so far graduated over 1,000 clients including 16 foreign nationals, who have been successfully reintegrated by their national and state governments.

The Defence Chief added that OPSC is a peacebuilding effort and its essential duties are carried out by relevant MDAS with the necessary expertise.

The meeting is part of the series to work out modalities for transferring rehabilitated clients to their national and state government authority for re-integration.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Brig. Gen. Joseph Maina, said the OPSC had admitted over 1,070 clients comprising 1,064 Nigerians and 16 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad and Niger since the commencement of the Programme in 2016.

He added that all foreign clients were transferred to their respective national authorities for reintegration upon completion.

He reaffirmed that presently, there were 559 clients undergoing the programme in the camp, out of this figure, two clients are Chadian citizens, one client was repatriated to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for expert psychiatric management during the initial documentation stages of the programme.

He added that the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff/National Chairman of OPSC is to work out modalities for the smooth transfer of the 559 clients presently in the camp to their national and states authorities for re-integration after graduation in January 2022.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 established Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram members to surrender and go through a de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programme.

The process began in February 2016 by a committee constituted by the chief of defence staff to operationalize the mandate of the president.

Consequently, personnel were drawn from 17 services, ministries, departments and agencies to execute the concept of operation.

Dignitaries at the stakeholders meeting include Chief of Defence Staff/National Chairman of Operation SAFE CORRIDOR, Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria, representatives of governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and the Zamfara States.

Others are the representatives of the National Security Adviser, Hon Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management as well as all Service Chiefs and Inspector General of Police.

The rest are the heads of Intelligence and Security Agencies, DG NOA, NEMA, NDE and Chairman/CEO of NDLEA, Principal Staff Officers at the Defence and Services Headquarters OPSC International and Local Implementation Partners and members of OPSC Advisory Committee.

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