By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The sponsor of the Bill seeking for an agency to deradicalise repentant Boko Haram members, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam (APC Yobe East), yesterday said that the bill has good intentions as against bad narratives being ascribed to it by some people.
Wide reportage of the bill and its provisions, hit the media space last week Thursday when it passed first reading in the Senate, with negative reactions from Nigerians, many of who called for its stoppage fortwith.
But Senator Gaidam in a personally signed statement, allayed the fears of the commentators by explaining that the move was driven by national interest and nothing sectional or primordial.
According to him, De-radicalization concept the bill provides for, is a global practice which has been experimented in countries like Britain, America etc, and it yielded good results through positive reformation of the radicalised people.
The statement reads in part: “In view of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency is becoming increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians, resulting in continued infliction of massive casualty on innocent citizens, particularly in northeastern Nigeria, it has become necessary for us to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach, in addition to the military option which has so far performed significantly well.
“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgents’ group have defected and many more are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this is confirmed by many organizations including NGO’s that have unalloyed access to the Boko Haram.
“There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realizing the futility of the course they are pursuing have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace.
“Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, Deradicalization and reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate the defectors.
“The Agency when established, shall be charged with the responsibility of the planning, designing and organizing specialized programs aimed at deradicalizing, rehabilitating and reintegrating defectors and repentant insurgents.
“These specialized programs which will serve as mechanisms for disengagement from terrorist’s ideology and invalidate the recourse to violence will focus on ideological, religious, educational, vocational, social, creative arts therapy, sports and recreation and psychological issues that cause violent extremism.
“It should be noted that the deradicalization and rehabilitation process for former members of Boko Haram will vary 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 deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“In contrast, those captured active in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process”.