Nigeria's number one man, President Muhammadu Buhari, going against his promise in February 2015, has now pardoned more than 1, 000 Boko Haram terrorists in three years and his government is some rehabilitating through the military’s Operation Safe Corridor in Gombe State.
SaharaReporters learnt that the Buhari government, which has continuously failed to end the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency, has the Operation Safe Corridor for the terrorists, with three arms known as de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration.
SaharaReporters gathered from the military handlers of the programme drawn from the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, that over 1, 000 Boko Haram terrorists had passed through the programme – sponsored by the Federal Government’s funds.
“In June 2020, we reintegrated 603 former fighters into their communities. In 2019, we reintegrated another 280 clients who have successfully undergone the programme and reintegrated into the society. Not all of them were Nigerians, some of them, about 25 of this number, were repatriated to Niger Republic,” an authoritative source disclosed.
“Another batch is still undergoing rehabilitation. The programme started in 2016, a year after the present administration came to power. Operation Safe Corridor initially admitted 287 combatants for the programme. Out of which 268, including two Chadians were rehabilitated.
“Operation Safe Corridor, which is currently being run by the Defence Headquarters, is headquartered in Gombe State and headed by a Major-General. In July 2019, we handed over 151 rehabilitated clients to the Borno State government,” another top military source revealed.
Checks by SaharaReporters revealed that the ongoing amnesty programme is against the stance of Buhari when he was speaking in February 2015, at the St James’s Square, London, in a question-and-answer session with Nigerians living in the United Kingdom.
He was interviewed on February 26, 2015, by an audience led by Richard Gozney, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, between 2004 and 2007.
Buhari said, “Well, Boko Haram has taken the day. The first question: amnesty for Boko Haram. I would not go to office with that promise. I have mentioned in my address how at least 13,000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram, how millions of them have been displaced. They are put in different camps, we call internally displaced persons’ camps; schools have been burnt.
“There is so much disruption to normal life. People are not able to farm, and while they farmed they could not harvest. And for me, to say I will give amnesty [to Boko Haram]; I think I am going to be unfair to the system. We want to secure Nigeria. We must have the time to collect enough intelligence to make sure that those that we got are given the chance and civil cause to be properly prosecuted.”
Buhari had further promised to end the harness the military might to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals, displacing millions internally and externally, and at a time holding on to portions of our territory the size of Belgium. What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former head of state, have always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.
“Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes,” the president had promised.
Not only has the Boko Haram insurgency spread presently to the North-West region with states like Niger and Kebbi in the grip, killer herdsmen and bandits had joined alliance with the terrorists to inflict the worst nightmare of killings and kidnappings on Nigerians.
Before becoming the President, he also criticised the granting of amnesty to Niger Delta militants by the Umaru Yar'Adua administration.
Checks by SaharaReporters showed the rehabilitation programme for the Boko Haram terrorists, funded by Nigeria’s dwindling economic resources and tax payers’ money, is still ongoing.