As many Nigerians are condemning the latest step by the government to establish National Agency for Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Repentant Insurgents Representative of Yobe East Senatorial District, Ibrahim Giadam, has explained that the bill is to entice Boko Haram members to abandon their evil ways.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday, Giadam said the main objective of the Bill was to provide an avenue for rehabilitating, deradicalising, and reintegrating them, as well as repentant and forcibly conscripted Boko Haram insurgents to make them useful in society.
The Bill, which was mentioned for first reading last week met a brick wall, as stakeholders rejected the move to make life comfortable for dissidents, who had killed and maimed thousands of Nigerians.
However, sponsor of the bill who saw it differently said since the Boko Haram insurgency was becoming increasingly aggressive marked by extreme brutality and targeting of civilians, it was expedient and instructive to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach in addition to exploring military option.
“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 decided to lay down their arms and choose the path of peace.“There is no doubt that some members of the group have defected and many others are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this has been confirmed by many organisations including non governmental organisations (NGOs) that have access to Boko Haram.
“Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, Deradicalisation and Reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate the defectors,” he stated.He said when established, the agency shall be charged with the responsibility of planning, designing and organising special programmes aimed at deradicalising, rehabilitating and reintegrating repentant insurgents.
Giadam argued that the specialised programmes would serve as a means of disengagement from terrorists’ ideology and invalidate recourse to violence.He said it would focus on ideological, religious, educational, vocational, social, creative arts therapy, sports and recreation and psychological issues that cause violent extremism.
“The bill provides for varied deradicalisation and rehabilitation process for former members of Boko Haram 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 deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“In contrast, those captured in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process,” he added. He argued that the Bill would provide an avenue for reconciliation and promote national security, provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, especially in the face of military pressure. “It will also allow the government to derive insider-information about the insurgency group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings, among others,” he stressed.