Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, says that “over” 1000 high profile Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province terrorists (BHT/ISWAP) have been captured by Nigerian troops, while over 500 have been convicted by courts of competent jurisdiction.
General Olonisakin said while declaring open, Operation SAFE CORRIDOR (OPSC) in Abuja that over 250 BHT/ISWAP ex-fighters, including 2 foreign nationals have been successfully reintegrated to their national and State governments.
The Defence Chief, who was represented by Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Nurudeen Balogun, said that the military will not rest on its oars in onslaught against the insurgents towards ending insurgency and other forms of security challenges confronting the country.
According to a statement released by Defence Spokesperson, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu on the OPERATION SAFE CORRIDOR event released on Saturday, General Olonisakin said that “over 2,000 low profile BHT/ISWAP members have laid down their arms and about 1,000 has successfully undergone the OPSC’s De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme while over 250 BHT/ISWAP ex-fighters, including two foreign nationals have been successfully reintegrated to their national and state governments.”
He added that 692 ex-fighters are presently undergoing the DRR training in Gombe and Maiduguri, capitals of Gombe and Borno States.
Debunking rumours that de-radicalized insurgents are being recruited into the military and paramilitary organizations, General Olonisakin urged Nigerians not to believe the misinformation, but rather cooperate with security agencies in the fight against BHT/ISWAP by providing useful information which could enhance the ongoing onslaught against the terrorists.
Coordinator of OPSC, Major General Bamidele Shafa, said that the DRR programme has become a global model as other countries are currently understudying the humanitarian response towards solving regional and global terrorism.
Said General Shafa, “OPSC has continued to contribute to knowledge in the field of DRR; many countries from Lake Chad Basin Region, Africa and far away Europe have come to understudy our procedures in order to replicate same to address similar situation and delegations from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic have come to Nigeria last year to study OPSC while Somalia delegation will be coming to see what we have done.”
General Olonisakin, while highlighting the achievements recorded by OPSC, thanked the various stakeholders, including the military and security agencies, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for actualizing OPSC core objective of De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme for repented low risk ex-fighters since its establishment in 2016.
The CDS equally expressed his appreciation to both local and international partners as well as ally nations for their support towards the OPSC scheme.
The OPSC meeting was attended by representatives of the Governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Plateau, Yobe, and Zamfara States as well as representative of the National Security Adviser, the three Service Chiefs, Federal Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs and Social Development, Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.
Other agencies that participated include the Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Service, and the National Intelligence Agency, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps. Also in attendance were the Nigerian Immigration Service, National Orientation Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, National Directorate of Employment, North East Development Commission and National Identity Management Commission.
Other OPSC local and international Implementation Partners who attended the event include Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Eric Mayoraz, United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and North East Regional Initiative (NERI) and OPSC Advisory Committee.