893 ex-combatants enroll into DRR programme since 2016 – DMO

By Victor Akaa, Abuja

Defence Media Operations say, atleast, about 893 repentant Boko haram / ISWAP terrorists have so far been enrolled into the De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) programme under Operation Safe Corridor since its inception in 2016.

Maj. Gen. John Enenche, Coordinator Defence Media Operations (DMO), Defence Headquarters disclosed this on a routine media briefing on the military operational activities in the country, specifically a special focus on the activities of Operation Safe Corridor in the north east.

Enenche said, out of the 893 ex-combatants that were admitted into the DRR programme, about 280 of them including 2 Chadians have been successfully reintegrated into the society through states and national authorities of their origin.

He added that, a total number of 603 were currently undergoing the DRR programme and would be due for graduation in July, this year.

According to him, the OPSC which was established in 2015 by the Defence headquarters and became operational in 2016 for the willing repentant terrorists whom may want to embrace peace was a success story with a lot of positive feedbacks from the ex terrorists whom had already been reintegrated into the society, saying some of them are doing well.

“The concept of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) is that of a unique non-kinetic operation aimed at giving hope to ex-combatants who willingly give up their arms to embrace peace.

“It is a Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led multi-agency humanitarian effort based on De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) of ex-combatant Boko Haram members that willingly surrender, which was established in September 2015 and became operational in 2016.

“The Operation is a success story as feedbacks from those reintegrated are positive.

“A particular one in Bama who learnt barbing as a vocation has successfully empowered 4 locals and is happily married with children”. Enenche explained.

According to the DMO Coordinator, OPSC is guided by among other provisions such as International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws. It is being administered by 468 staff drawn from 17 organizations including the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), Law Enforcement and Security Agencies, other Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including North East Development Commission (NEDC) as well as locals from Gombe, where the DRR camp is located.

He said, the scheme also enjoys widespread collaboration and support of local and international NGOs with key implementation partners including United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department For International Development (DFID), amongst others.

He emphasised that, the idea of the programme was not intending to assembling raw repentant ex-combatants to inject back into the society by the Military.

But rather, it is an international best practice for conflict management backed by relevant laws with the concurrence of key stakeholders such as international organizations and MDAs among others.

He added that, before an ex combatants is being enrolled into the DRR programme and reintegrated into the wider society, he must undergo stages of thorough medical analysis, with psychotherapic counselling, sporting activities, drug test, entrepreneurial skills, transitional justice initiative, oath taking among others.

“Deradicalization is the first stage of the programme after medical screening including taking of DNA sample is conducted. It covers; psychotherapy, psycho-spiritual counseling, drug abuse intervention, art therapy, sports/recreation and introduction to western education to counter the BHT ideology.

“Rehabilitation. The rehabilitation package of the programme include; training in barbing, carpentry, cosmetology, farming, leatherworks, shoe making, tailoring and welding. They will be issued with starter packs (basic tools) and provided with take off funds.

“Reintegration aspect of the DRR programme is the most delicate and longest phase that lasts beyond the camp. It entails transitional justice initiative involving family linkage with the assistance of IOM and UNICEF among others.

“Administration of Oath of Allegiance is also conducted at this stage. The panel is headed by a judge of the Federal High Court with members drawn for relevant agencies”.

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