The programme is based on De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) of former members of the Islamic sect that has terrorised the northeast region for over 10 years.
The multi-agency humanitarian effort, led by Defence Headquarters, was launched in 2016 to encourage Boko Haram terrorists to surrender.
A total of 881 ‘repentant’ former terrorists have been released since the programme was launched four years ago, with 601 released as recently as this month.
The latest batch was released around the same time that Boko Haram executed five abducted aid workers on camera.
While speaking during an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Ndume said the programme is a ‘very misplaced priority’ by the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said it’s okay for the government to deradicalise terrorists, but that it’s ill-advised to release them while the war is still on, and the terrorist group is still active.
He also said it’s ill-timed because over one million people displaced by Boko Haram are still suffering in internally displaced persons camps, and not getting the same level of attention from the government.
“The government is doing this Operation Safe Corridor bringing in those people that tortured, and killed, and maimed.
“The memory is still fresh in our mind because our people are still displaced, and then you say you’re bringing them back, pampering them and giving them start-up (capital),” he said.
Ndume further rejected the military’s claim that the released former terrorists are being monitored to ensure they don’t return to their violent ways.
He alleged that many of them have disappeared few days after their release and one in particular killed his father and fled with his two cows.
He said, “If I ask those that released them to recall them tomorrow and let them come back to Gombe where they are, I don’t think they’ll have up to 50% of them.”
The senator said the military should stop releasing terrorists and hold onto them until the war is over, while also focusing on giving victims of terrorism a way out of their dire situation.
He warned that it’ll only set a bad example for youths who might start thinking it’s profitable to join Boko Haram and later surrender to enjoy benefits the government is handing out.
Ndume, who represents Borno South in the Senate, said the people in his constituency are against the programme and may soon take legal action against it.
“There’s nowhere in our constitution that allows for that even.
“When you commit a crime, it is court that will decide to free you.
“This programme is not what our people want,” he said.
The lawmaker refused to be drawn into a debate about whether service chiefs should be removed for their failure to curb insecurity in the country.
He said, “I don’t care who is the chief of army staff. After all, the president is the commander-in-chief.
“Now, are you saying that the commander-in-chief should go or what?”
Boko Haram’s insurgency in the northeast region kicked off in 2009 with the sect vowing to carve out a caliphate out of Nigeria and at some point controlling dozens of territories which it later lost over the years.
Despite its activities being significantly subdued by the military over the past few years, the group, alongside its influential faction the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), is still terrorising parts of the northeast and surrounding border areas in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
The group has killed over 30,000 people, and displaced over 2.5 million people.
Source: Pulse Online.