The Nigerian army Thursday said over 1000 Boko Haram suspects were rehabilitated and reintegrated back to the society.
Army spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu disclosed this in a statement in reaction to reports that the army secretly reintegrated 1009 former Boko Haram terrorists back into the society in Borno State.
Dismissing the report as “false” and untrue, Mr Nwachukwu said, “It is an indisputable fact that the ongoing Counter Terrorism Counter Insurgency Operations (CTCOIN) in the North East has led to the arrest of several terrorism/insurgency suspects.”
He further said while suspects found guilty of participating in terrorism have been handed over for prosecution, those released were suspects who have been thoroughly investigated, profiled and rehabilitated.
“These suspects have been held in custody, while undergoing profiling and further investigations by experts from the Joint Investigation Centre (JIC) and those who are found culpable are usually handed over to prosecuting agencies accordingly, while those who are not implicated in terrorism and insurgency are cleared and released to the state government for rehabilitation before they are reintegrated into the society.
“These cleared suspects are therefore not ex Boko Haram fighters, as peddled in the said online report and as the masterminds would want to impress on the public.
A total of 1009 cleared suspects, not ex fighters, were therefore released after this rigorous process on Wednesday 14 July 2021,” Mr Nwachukwu said.
Despite criticisms, President Muhammadu Buhari regime in 2016 launched Operation Safe Corridor, an initiative to deradicalise and rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
But Borno State governor Babagana Zulum had in March raised the alarm that rehabilitated and released ex-Boko Haram insurgents return back to the society to be spies for the terrorist group.
“It has been confirmed that the concept of deradicalisation or Safe Corridor is not working as expected.
Quite often, those who have passed through the Safe Corridor initiative, or have been deradicalised, usually go back and rejoin the terror group after carefully studying the various security arrangements in their host communities, during the reintegration process,” Mr Zulum said.