Senator representing Yobe East, Ibrahim Gaidam, explained on Monday why he sponsored a bill to create a commission to oversee the de-radicalization of captured repentant Boko Haram.
Senator Gaidam, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, said the proposed commission would help repentant insurgents to “re-enter politics, religion and society”.
According to him, the “Bill to establish a National Agency for Education, Deradicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of the captured Repentant Insurgents” would promote reconciliation and national unity.
Gaidam added that, when created, “it will provide a way to rehabilitate, de-radicalize and reintegrate deserters, repentant members and forcibly recruited by the insurgent group Boko Haram to make them useful members of society.
“Provide a pathway to reconciliation and promote national security.
“Provide an open door and encourage other members of the group who are still involved in the insurgency to leave the group, especially in the face of military pressure.
“Allow the government to obtain inside information about the group of insurgencies for a better understanding of the group and its internal workings.
“Obtaining a greater understanding of the insurgents will allow the government to study the needs of de-radicalization efforts, improve the process and address the immediate concerns of violence.
“Allow the government to use deserters to fight unrepentant insurgents.
“Help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group is spreading as the program will allow some deserters or suspected terrorists to express remorse for their actions, repent and portray their violent doctrine and, in the long run, reinsert themselves in politics, religion and conventional societies. “
He further stated that the agency would also help combat future recruitments in the insurgent group.
“If deserters told their stories and became more public, their experiences would play a key role in combating terrorist propaganda, which in turn would lessen the appeal to join the group,” said Gaidam.
He said the services of the proposed agency would help the Federal Government reduce the cost of incarceration.
He insisted that individuals who would otherwise have their lives entrenched in crime would be forced to become productive members of society.
He said the agency would also in this way help to make extremist movements obsolete, undermining the foundations on which the movements were built.
He noted that the proposed agency’s specialized programs would serve as “mechanisms for withdrawing the terrorist’s ideology and invalidating the use of violence”.
He added that: “Given that the Boko Haram insurgency has become increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians … it has become necessary to return to the drawing board and adopt a alternative approach, in addition to the military option that has so far performed significantly.
“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgent group have deserted and many others are willing to repent, due to a window of opportunity, and this is confirmed by many organizations, including NGOs, that do not have unrestricted access to Boko Haram.
“There is a need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to attract group members who, after realizing the futility of the course they are taking, finally decided to voluntarily lay down their weapons and choose the path of peace.
“Therefore, the need to establish the National Agency for Rehabilitation, Deradicalization and reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate deserters.
“The agency, when established, will have the responsibility to plan, design and organize specialized programs designed to de-radicalize, rehabilitate and reintegrate repentant deserters and insurgents.
“Those who tire of perpetual violence and voluntarily lay down their weapons and defect from the group will be accepted and rehabilitated using various tools for de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“On the other hand, those captured active on the battlefield must, in addition to psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process.
“In dealing with the insurgency, the Nigerian government needs to introduce preventive and corrective measures to combat violent extremism,” said Gaidam.