By Sunday Isuwa, Abuja
New revelations have emerged on how the Nigerian Military is handling surrendering ex- Boko Haram combatants who waged over eight years war against the Nigerian state.
In an effort to reorient the insurgents of the sect’s ideology that western education is bad and their treasonable assertion that democratic governance is evil, the Nigerian Military had established a de-radicalization centre in Gombe State.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the establishment of the de-radicalization centre is helping to absolve myriad of Boko Haram members captured, including the ones surrendering on a daily basis.
The combatants, it was learnt, are trained on various vocational skills and are accommodated in the military facility where they go through various training on tailoring, carpentry, vulcanizing and other skills acquisition trainings.
So far, five ex-combatants have successfully gone through the six weeks training and have acquired various skills in the rehabilitation centre.
Of the 95 ex-combatants currently undergoing de-radicalization exercise, 52 will ‘pass out’ before the 43 others who arrived the facility last week Friday, it was also gathered.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the Defence spokesman, Maj Gen John Enenche said the military introduced Operation Safe Corridor in other to accommodate Boko Haram ex-combatants who realised how deceitful their leaders had been with the ideology that “western education is bad, democratic governance is evil”.
Enenche said even though the military has not relented in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists, various efforts have been put in place to accommodate combatants who realised that they were not fighting a just war.
He said with the establishment of the de-radicalization centre in Gombe, the military has been able to train and rehabilitated five of the insurgents who completed their training and passed out some weeks ago.
His words: “At the moment, we have 95 at the Gombe camp. Earlier, we took 52 and last week Friday, 43 ex-combatants were also taken to the facility for the de-radicalisation exercise. They are adapting very well. They are very excited because most of them- not all- said during the screening exercise that they were deceived by the Boko Haram terrorist group leaders to do bad things against the state.
“They are genuine repentant members of the Boko Haram. They are excited because some of them said they were told that if they surrender and come out, they will be eliminated. This was not what we did. It is not what we do. We follow the laws of the land and the conventions of arm conflicts”.
The defence spokesman said the moment combatants surrender with their arms, what they do is to give them a humane treatment and look at possible ways they will be reintegrated back to the society.
He continued: “These are some of the things we are doing and they (ex-combatants) are excited because we are feeding them well at the facility. We train them in various vocational training and the programme is structured for six weeks.
“We train them on vocations such as carpentry, tailoring, vulcanizing amongst others. Whatever they can do, we should be able to train them based on their area of interest and based on various sections that we have. For the 52 ex-combatants who went to the facility earlier, they will graduate before the 43 who went last week Friday. They will all spend six weeks each”.
While giving assurance that the ex-combatants undergoing the de-radicalization exercise will not go back to what they were doing before, Enenche said, “We have a multi- sectoral approach. By the time we finish these trainings, we will now go through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in other to get them back to the society.
“We are not going to leave them solely. We will be working together with the NDE and other non-governmental organization and private entities, including the international agencies so that they can be further mentored.
“One thing with psychology and the nature of man is that you don’t leave him idle. These are the arrangement we have put in place. We will be monitoring and mentoring them so that we achieve the objectives of re-integrating them into the society”.
Enenche also disclosed that the Boko Haram combatants who surrendered and the ones that are being captured are not put in the same facility.
He said, “No, they are not going through the same process because there are two things involved. If you capture an enemy (the Boko Haram members are enemies of the state now) if you captured them, most times they don’t volunteer information and they don’t come with their equipment.
“If you go for operation, the people that are arrested or captured are being profile. Some are innocent because they were adopted by the terrorists. You sort them out. Then the ones that were terrorists will be identify and treated separately.”