The Presidency has reacted to claims that the Nigerian government has been absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the nation’s military.
The Presidency described such claims as fake news, saying that nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption,
The rumours, which have continued to gain momentum, followed from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme for members of the terrorist group, who surrendered their arms.
In a statement on Wednesday, Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu cautioned serious leaders not to fall for “fake news on repentant terrorists”.
He said, “Now that groups with hitherto proven bona fides, some religious leaders and a few in the legislature have joined the supply chain of fake news, it is important that we step in to clear the false reports that the administration is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military.
“It is important for the public to know that nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption.
“None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military. This is the fourth such graduation of repentant Boko Haram fighters and not one of such graduates has been absorbed into the military.
“The public needs to be reassured that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists of the Buhari administration code named “Operation Safe Corridor,” follows an established example from countries with similar experiences, and is supported academically and materially by the European Union and the United Nations.
“The lead agency for the implementation of the programme in Gombe is the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization which is represented in Nigeria.”
Shehu went further to say that it was important to note that the programme for repentant terrorists, “does not have a place for hard boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force.”
He added, “At the point of their graduation, a determination is made that the former combatants have repented and are better citizens, imbued with genuine nationalism. They must no longer represent a danger to society or to themselves.
“Where they are certified as such, communities have the duty of accepting them. Unless they want them to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they have repented, community leaders must work with the relevant agencies to end their rejection.”
According to Shehu, the Buhari administration “is a responsible one and is conscious of its duty to the state and society, and to the victims of terror as well as to those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people.”