The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, has said about 51,828 Boko Haram fighters and their family members surrendered to the Federal Government between July 2021 and May 2022.
Irabor disclosed this while delivering a lecture at the 7th Founders’ Day of the Edo State University Uzairue, titled ‘National Defence Policy and Transitional Justice Approach in the War Against Insurgency in Nigeria’.
He said out of the 51,828 members of the insurgent group, 13,360 were fighters.
He disclosed that 1,543 repentant terrorists graduated from Mallam Sidi camp, in Gombe State, between 2016 and 2022, while 1,935 had been released from the camp in Bulumkutu, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
He said Operation Safe Corridor as a transitional justice approach was created similar to the Niger Delta Amnesty programme launched by the Federal Government in 2009 which involved the setting up of special facilities where repentant terrorists who surrendered their arms could be rehabilitated.
“About 51,828 Boko Haram fighters and their family members have surrendered to the Federal Government between July 2021 and May 2022.
“The Operation Safe Corridor offers numerous opportunities and participants are scheduled for vocational training to ease their reintegration into society,” he said.
“Despite the modest successes recorded by operation safe corridor in the fight against crime, the programme still faced a lot of challenges.
“Some of the challenges include the lack of specialised training expertise and inadequate physical structure, inadequate collaboration and coordination, absence of appropriate legislation on reintegration, low agency, and international participation as well as an ineffective monitoring system.
He, however, called for the establishment of a special fund for deradicalisation, reintegration, and reorientation, the establishment of a national commission for DRR, the enacting of a DRR law, the building of strategic partnerships and adoption of a whole-of-society approach to monitoring.
According to him, in any counter insurgency, transitional justice played a key role in healing wounds such as the Nigerian Civil War and the Niger Delta crisis, adding that Operation Safe Corridor had achieved some degree of success which could be built upon.
Meanwhile, a repentant Boko Haram member, Muhammad Abba, has apologised to Nigerians for the wrongs done, adding that the oath taken would purge him and his colleagues of further ills.
Abba noted that they would not escape the wrath of God.
Speaking on Saturday during the graduation of 594 ex-terrorists, including 590 Nigerians, three Nigeriens, and one Chadian.
Abba said, “We apologise for our various wrongs to our communities, and everyone sitting here. To extend our apology to all and sundry in the various communities. We are really very sorry and we are not going back to the very atrocities.
“We have taken the oath of allegiance to our peaceful, loving country Nigeria, we know the consequences of taking an oath with the Quran or with a Holy Bible.
“We will be faithful, loyal, faithful to the allegiance and oath we have taken.”
On his part, the Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, Maj Gen Joseph Maina, decried the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East region, adding that it had continued to impact negatively on the lives and livelihoods of the people.