President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep shock over the killing of military personnel in Metele village of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists, assuring at the same time that immediate measures are being taken to ensure that the loopholes which led to the fatalities are blocked once and for all.
Reacting to the tragic incident, the President, according to a statement by Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity), said that his administration remains ever committed and focused on the security of military personnel and other citizens.
This is as the Nigerian Army has released 154 ex-Boko Haram fighters who are said to have undergone rehabilitation at a camp in Gombe State.
According to President Buhari, “No responsible Commander-in-Chief would rest on his oars or fold his hands to allow terrorists to endanger the lives of its military personnel and other citizens. Our loyal forces have proved their strength over the terrorists and we are ready to give them all the needed support in terms of equipment and manpower to succeed in ending the renewed threat. In the coming days, I am engaging the Military and Intelligence Chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking.”
The President noted that fighting terrorism has taken a global dimension, which necessitates international collaboration among states facing similar security challenges.
President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his continued commitment to their security and of his efforts to sustain the momentum in the previous significant successes recorded against the terrorists.
He, however, advised Nigerians against making a political capital out of national tragedy, stressing that members of the armed forces are one family who are commonly committed to the security and safety of all Nigerians.
Meanwhile aware that the release of the 154 ex-Boko Haram fighters against the backdrop of the renewed aggression of the militants would cause consternation among some Nigerians, the Emir of Fika in Yobe state, one of the three states that have been battling with Boko Haram insurgency, reassured that the release of the 154 would not pose any danger to the society.
The Emir, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammad Abali Muhammad Idris spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States at the Nigerian Army’s Operation Safe Corridors (OPSC)’s graduation discharge ceremony of the rehabilitated ex Boko Haram fighters hitherto held at the De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration camp, Mallam Sidi, Gombe state Saturday afternoon.
According to the Emir, the strategy would help in bringing those still hiding in the Boko Haram camps to surrender and further help in achieving success in the fight against insurgency.
Allaying the fears, the Emir said, “There will be some challenges at the community level, maybe some people will be very apprehensive of seeing some characters who have killed their relatives or something. We the traditional institution need to do a lot to assure the people that these people are harmless. They should tell the public that a lot has been done to de-radicalize them and that it is very important that we allow them to reintegrate into the society”.
Earlier, the Camp Commandant, Colonel BMG Martins said the 154 ex Boko Haram fighters who arrived the camp on 22 December, 2017, have completed the programme and would be handed over to their respective State authorities for re-integration into the larger society.
He said, “On arrival at the camp, they were made to go through spiritual counseling, psychotherapy and drug abuse intervention. They were also introduced to western education, arts, social works and sports, against Boko Haram ideologies”.
“So far”, he added, “the following have been with the clients that are graduating from the programme today, they were enthusiastic with the programme, the drug abuse intervention has proved effective with clients who have history of drug abuse, they showed great interest in sports, arts, vocational works and western education and their extremist ideologies are being transformed in order to conform with the acceptable norms and teachings of their religion”.
He said the Camp had elements from different ministries, departments and agencies who worked assiduously to achieve a common goal, comprising of professionals from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Drug counselors, clergies, interpreters, psychologists, social workers, educationists, vocational experts, sports and recreation experts, art therapists and medical personnel.
Major General BM Shafa, coordinator of Operation Safe Corridor which coordinates the de-radicalization programme said Operation Safe Corridors (OPSC) had successfully rehabilitated and re-integrated six associated and facilitated the rehabilitation of 750 cleared men, women and children and their subsequent release to their respective State Governments in collaboration with some domestic and International NGO’s including United Nations organs.
He added that between July and December 2017, a total of 254 clients were admitted into OPSC for the De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) programme. The first batch of 95 clients were discharged in February this year and were being successfully re-integrated by their respective State Governments.
Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who was represented by his Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Dahiru Buba Biri, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the programme which he said has tremendously improved the security situation in the Northeast.
One of the ex Boko Haram fighters, Malam Abba Usman Shua, while commending the efforts of the Nigerian military in creating a safe environment for everyone, confessed that they had been living in bondage of a wrong ideology.
He commended the camp activities which he said had been going on without any of them experiencing any form of molestation or discrimination.