As Boko Haram Tumbles Under Op Safe Corridor

By Emeka Nwankpa on March 24, 2019

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The 2019 general elections have come and gone but not without some intriguing revelations like the incidence of mass voting in the war-ravaged North East which again showcased the success of the ongoing counter-terrorism operations compared to the 2015 elections when several people were disenfranchised because 27 local government councils in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States were under Boko Haram.

The free polls in the region showed that the armed forces under the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin and the service chiefs have indeed turned the table against Boko Haram.

Over 2,000 former Boko Haram fighters are believed to have embraced Federal Government’s De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) programme code-named Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC). The camp is in Mallam Sidi, about 32 km to Gombe.

Analysts affirm that the DRR programme is sure-footed under its pioneer Coordinator, Major General Bamidele Shafa leading 375 highly-dedicated staff mobilized from 13 key agencies such as the Office of the National Security Adviser, Prisons, Police, DSS, Immigration, NDLEA, NEMA, National Identity Management Commission, Armed Forces, NOA, NYSC, NDE and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Keen observers now link the degrading of the sect’s fighting capacity and the just-concluded successful elections in the region to the high impact of Op Safe Corridor towards the return of peace to the region.

In 2015, the President raised a national committee chaired by the Chief of Defence Staff with Governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector General of Police, a Director from Office of the National Security Adviser, Director General State Security Service, Chief of Defence Intelligence and the Director General National Emergency Management Agency, as members.

The DRR is a 52-week programme emanating from a National Security Council meeting in September 2015 conceived as a safe corridor for repentant insurgents. It is a joint multi-national humanitarian operation in line with international human rights laws and the Nigerian constitution.

Boko Haram’s loss of over 2,000 members has diminished its fighting chance as a result of government’s efficient execution of the DRR by the CDS’ team led by Maj Gen Shafa, Nigerian Army’s most senior intelligence officer and Director of Operations at Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). But the biggest praise goes to President Buhari for creating the idea and assembling the crack team.

A robust tracking technology to block contact between Boko Haram and the former insurgents is in place. They undergo various de-radicalization therapies and are trained in vocational skills like shoe making, leather works, farming, poultry, welding, tailoring, soap making and cosmetology, carpentry, barbing, furniture, etc.

On graduation, they are transferred to their states for enrollment into NDE Skills Acquisition centers for further training but not after taking oaths of allegiance before a Sharia or High Court to be law-abiding citizens. To boost their fitness, they undergo comprehensive medical screening conducted by technical stakeholders in the programme whose identities are beyond the scope of this piece.   

Psychotherapy, psycho-spiritual counseling, drug, western education, art therapy and other critical intervention therapies are conducted for them by specialist teachers, counselors, clergies, psychologists, social workers, drug rehabilitation specialists, dramatists and interpreters.

To enhance their health, promote cordial interactions in the Camp and nullify Boko Haram’s ideology towards boosting their self esteem, the handlers provide for them friendly games, indoor-outdoor sports and recreation facilities such as football field, volleyball court, table tennis and driveway for jogging.

Their DNA samples are deposited at DNA Laboratory of the Defence Headquarters with their biometrics, in the National Identity Card System, used for their specially-coded identity cards after detailed debriefing by the Camp Intelligence Cell for re-integration and security purposes.

The Camp commandant, Colonel Beyidi Martins disclosed recently that 260 former insurgents comprising the pilot six long detained for associating with the sect, have been treated so far. Another 95 who graduated in February 2018 were transferred to their states-Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe fully re-integrated and re-settled. Twenty-four minors (of ages 13 and 18) were released to UNICEF for onward transmission to their foster parents.  

The last 150 who graduated on November 24, 2018 are still in the camp owing to resurgent attacks in the North East but will be released to their states which expressed willingness to receive them. 

The Armed Forces under the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin have indeed whittled Boko Haram with over 2,000 dumping the sect without the sound of gunfire. The programme is now highly rated as Nigeria’s major gift to global peace and security.

Maj. Gen. Bamidele Shafa said recently that modern warfare is better driven by the efficacy of strategy than raw armament, contending that victory is predicated on what breaks the fighting will of the enemy.

Noting that most of the boys conscripted into the sect were anxious to be free from Boko Haram, he described OPSC as the government’s most effective strategy to restore normalcy in the North East.

‘’We discovered by diligent intelligence, profiling and medical screening that majority of those still in the Camp were conscripted by drugging. When Op Safe Corridor was announced in September 2015, they quickly dumped Boko Haram and embraced the DRR which they now see as opportunity to be decent citizens again. Over 2,000 of the boys have surrendered so far. They are remorseful for their past misconduct and their enthusiasm to turn a new leaf is astonishing.

‘’The DRR’s primary objective of breaking the sect’s fighting will is being achieved. As a war commander, if you woke up and discovered that your soldiers had gone, you quit. This is Boko Haram’s dilemma now’’, he said.

Opinions in the international conflict-resolution community are unanimous that the soft non-military model emphasizing winning the hearts and minds of the people is crucial to the return of peace in the North East in line with global best practice.


Emeka Nwankpa sent this piece from Abuja.


Source Editor

Posted on March, 24 2019

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