The Nigerian Army’s Operation Safe Corridor, OPSC, has handed over 86 repentant Boko Haram child fighters to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu.
In a statement on Thursday, the acting Director, Defence Information, Onyema Nwachukwu, said the handing over was aimed at ensuring that minors and other repentant Boko Haram fighters in the North East were given the necessary support and opportunity to embrace peace.
According to Mr Nwachukwu, the repentant terrorists, who voluntarily surrendered to troops of operation Lafiya Dole, would undergo comprehensive Child Care Programme sponsored and organized by UNICEF in conjunction with Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“The child fighters who are between ages 10 – 19 are part of over 1,370 Boko Haram fighters who have so far surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
“After a thorough profiling and screening, the minors were considered suitable for the 6-month De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration, DRR, programme.
“Arrangement is also ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to Operation Safe Corridor for DRR Programme.
“The handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo and UNICEF Official, Clement Adams.
“The duo congratulated the surrenderers for laying down their arms, urging them to take advantage of the DRR programme to turn a new leaf and abandon the senseless struggle,” the statement read in part.
The statement further noted that the scheme was a Defence Headquarters-led “non-kinetic multi-national and multi-agency humanitarian operation conducted in tandem with extant international humanitarian laws to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North East to shun violent extremism”.
“The operation is designed to also de-radicalize, rehabilitate and re-integrate repentant Boko Haram combatants who willingly surrender to troops.”
The Armed Forces, therefore, called on willing Boko Haram fighters to abandon the futile struggle and surrender to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
“Those who voluntarily surrender to troops are guaranteed of safety and will benefit from the Operation Safe Corridor de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration programme.
“The AFN is further committed to its strict adherence to the rules of engagement and other extant laws especially as it relates to minors in conflict situations,” Mr Nwachukwu added.