The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin has reiterated Armed Forces of Nigeria’s (AFN) commitment towards ending insurgency and other forms of security challenges confronting the country. The CDS gave the assurance while declaring open, Operation SAFE CORRIDOR (OPSC) in Abuja. The CDS, who was represented by Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Nurudeen Balogun, posited that the AFN will not rest on its oars in onslaught against the insurgents. He noted that over 1000 high profile Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province terrorists (BHT/ISWAP) have been captured by Nigerian troops, while over 500 have been convicted by courts of competent jurisdiction.
General Olonisakin, while highlighting the achievements recorded by OPSC, thanked the various stakeholders, including the military and security agencies, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for actualizing OPSC core objective of De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) program for repented low risk ex-fighters since its establishment in 2016. The CDS equally expressed his appreciation to both local and international partners as well as ally nations for their support towards the OPSC scheme.
According to the CDS, “over 2000 low profile BHT/ISWAP members have laid down their arms and about 1000 has successfully undergone the OPSC’s DRR program, while over 250 BHT/ISWAP ex-fighters, including 2 foreign nationals have been successfully reintegrated to their national and state governments.’’ He added that 692 ex-fighters are presently undergoing the DRR training in Gombe and Maiduguri states. Debunking rumours that de-radicalized insurgents are being recruited into the military and paramilitary organizations, General Olonisakin urged Nigerians not to believe the misinformation, but rather cooperate with security agencies in the fight against BHT/ISWAP by providing useful information which could enhance the ongoing onslaught against the terrorists.
The Coordinator of OPSC, Maj Gen Bamidele Shafa, earlier in his remarks, noted that the DRR programme has become a global model as other countries are currently understudying the humanitarian response towards solving regional and global terrorism. According to him “OPSC has continued to contribute to knowledge in the field of DRR; many countries from Lake Chad Basin Region, Africa and far away Europe have come to understudy our procedures in order to replicate same to address similar situation and delegations from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic have come to Nigeria last year to study OPSC while Somalia delegation will be coming to see what we have done.”
Maj Gen Shafa thanked the President for his continuous support towards the programme and disclosed that the OPSC is engaging the public on the benefits of DRR programme.OPSC stakeholders that attended the meeting include representatives of the Governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Plateau, Yobe, and Zamfara as well as representative of the National Security Adviser and the three Service Chiefs. Others are Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Service, and the National Intelligence Agency, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Also in attendance were the Nigerian Immigration Service, National Orientation Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, National Directorate of Employment, North East Development Commission and National Identity Management Commission. OPSC Local and international Implementation Partners who were also in attendance include: the Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Eric Mayoraz, United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and North East Regional Initiative (NERI) and OPSC Advisory Committee.
Acting Director Defence Information