1. Today, I will be briefing on operations of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies. This is in line with our routine engagement since the commencement of our Media Operations. As you are all aware, all the operations are progressively going on well in all the theatres. Our emphasis today will be on Operation Safe Corridor.
OPERATION SAFE CORRIDOR
2. The concept of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) is that of a unique non-kinetic operation aimed at giving hope to ex-combatants who willingly give up their arms to embrace peace. It is a Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led multi-agency humanitarian effort based on De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration (DRR) of ex-combatant Boko Haram members that willingly surrender, which was established in September 2015 and became operational in 2016.
3. Operation SAFE CORRIDOR (OPSC) is guided by among other provisions such as International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws. It is being administered by 468 staff drawn from 17 organizations including the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), Law Enforcement and Security Agencies, other Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including North East Development Commission (NEDC) as well as locals from Gombe, where the DRR camp is located. The scheme also enjoys widespread collaboration and support of local and international NGOs. The key implementation partners are:
a. United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
b. International Organization for Migration (IOM).
c. United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
d. Department For International Development (DFID).
e. Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
f. North-East Regional Initiative (NERI).
4. Deradicalization. Deradicalization is the first stage of the programme after medical screening including taking of DNA sample is conducted. It covers; psychotherapy, psycho-spiritual counseling, drug abuse intervention, art therapy, sports/recreation and introduction to western education to counter the BHT ideology.
5. Rehabilitation. The rehabilitation package of the programme include; training in barbing, carpentry, cosmetology, farming, leatherworks, shoe making, tailoring and welding. They will be issued with starter packs (basic tools) and provided with take off funds.
6. Reintegration. Reintegration aspect of the DRR programme is the most delicate and longest phase that lasts beyond the camp. It entails transitional justice initiative involving family linkage with the assistance of IOM and UNICEF among others. Administration of Oath of Allegiance is also conducted at this stage. The panel is headed by a judge of the Federal High Court with members drawn from relevant agencies.
7. Gleaning from the concept and conduct of Operation SAFE CORRIDOR, it is not a process of assembling raw repentant ex-combatants to inject back into the society by the Military. Rather, it is an international best practice for conflict management backed by relevant laws with the concurrence of key stakeholders such as international organizations and MDAs among others.
8. Since its inception in 2016, OPSC has admitted 893 ex-combatants for the Programme out of which 280 including 2 Chadians have been successfully reintegrated back into the society through their respective national and state authorities. Presently, there are 603 of them undergoing the DRR Programme and would be graduating by July 2020. The Operation is a success story as feedbacks from those reintegrated are positive. A particular one in Bama who learnt barbing as a vocation has successfully empowered 4 locals and is happily married with children.
Defence Media Operations
11 June 2020