Why I proposed establishment of Agency for Boko Haram Terrorists — Senator

Ibrahim Gaidam

The representative of Yobe East Senatorial District, Ibrahim Gaidam, on Monday said Boko Haram fighters were ready to surrender, but afraid.
Gaidam had last week introduced a bill, titled: “National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria.”
Briefing newsmen, the former Governor explained that the bill was misinterpreted, explaining that the intention was not to establish a Commission for Boko Haram members, but for those who have willingly surrendered their arms and are ready to embrace peace.
Gaidam said: “In view of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency is becoming increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians, resulting in continued infliction of massive casualty on innocent citizens, particularly in northeastern Nigeria, it has become necessary for us to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach, in addition to the military option which has so far performed significantly well.
“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgents’ group have defected and many more are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this is confirmed by many organisations, including NGOs that have unalloyed access to the Boko Haram.
“There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realising the futility of the course they are pursuing have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace. Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, Deradicalization and Reintegration of Repentant Insurgents to accommodate the defectors.
“The Agency, when established, shall be charged with the responsibility of the planning, designing and organising specialised programmes aimed at de-radicalizing, rehabilitating and reintegrating defectors and repentant insurgents.
“These specialized programmes, which will serve as mechanisms for disengagement from terrorists ideology and invalidate the recourse to violence will focus on ideological, religious, educational, vocational, social, creative arts therapy, sports and recreation and psychological issues that cause violent extremism.
“It should be noted that the deradicalization and rehabilitation process for former members of Boko Haram will vary on a case-to-case basis. Those who have become weary of the perpetual violence and have voluntarily laid down their arms and defected from the group will be accepted and rehabilitated using various tools of deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“In contrast, those captured active in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process.”