By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Tuesday organized a town hall meeting to sensitise communities ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency to forgiveness, reconciliation and reintegration of repentant insurgents into the society.
CDD’s Coordinator, Malam Musa Zarami, said the exercise was part of a comprehensive awareness creation campaign to encourage dialogue in communities to facilitate reconciliation and peace restoration at the grass roots.
Zarami explained that the exercise also focused at educating the affected communities and victims of insurgency, to forgive the insurgents and accept them into their folds to achieve sustainable peace in the northeast.
“It is part of our objectives and engagement in the northeast to further enhance collaboration between relevant stakeholders in peace building, forgiveness and reconciliation.
“We are sensitising community and religious leaders to the de-radicalisation of Boko Haram insurgents.
“The aim is to provide platform to stimulate sensitization of stakeholders and members of the public on de-radicalisation programme and how best the repentant insurgents could be reintegrated in the society.”
Zarami disclosed that about 100 participants drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state attended the exercise, adding that the organisation had earlier conducted similar exercise at Damaturu.
According to him, the exercise is conducted in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative (PCNI) and Operation Safe Corridor while Mc Arthur Foundation supports the exercise.
Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, the Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, noted that such dialogue between community members was imperative to end insurgency and enhance peace restoration in the region.
“It is desirable for community members to forgive and accept repentant insurgents into the society.
“The repentant insurgents were forcefully conscripted and they had under gone intensive de-radicalization and rehabilitation process to enable them to rejoin the society,” he said.
Shafa disclosed that the repentant insurgents were trained on various trades to enable them to engage in productive activities and become responsible members of the society.
He added that over 200 of them were de-radicalised and rehabilitated, noting that they were ready to re-join the society.
The coordinator reiterated the commitments of Nigerian Army to end insurgency, protect lives and property, stressing that the authorities would not condone release of repentant insurgents, who could become a threat to the society.
However, some of the participants expressed concern over the government plans to reintegrate the insurgents in to the society.
Alhaji Kachalla Kyari, a district head in Bama, said they were wary over the reintegration programme in view of the insurgents’ extreme ideologies and atrocities perpetrated by the group.
Kyari recounted that the insurgents had poisoned food items and water sources in Bama, and wondered why the government trained them on processing of sachet water.
“After their reintegration, it is good not to allow them to engage in sachet water processing to guard against poisoning.”
Another community leader, Alhaji Zanna Yale, noted that it would be difficult for the affected persons to forgive and accept the insurgents after the atrocities they committed against the families.
Yale further called on the government to postpone the reintegration programme until peace was achieved and called for prayers for the return of peace in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Operation Safe Corridor is initiated by the Federal Government to encourage Boko Haram insurgents to surrender.
It is also designed to rehabilitate and de-radicalise the repentant insurgents for possible reintegration into the society. (NAN)