EUROPEAN Union (EU) officials have provided Nigeria with €67m to rehabilitate former Boko Haram fighters who are prepared to lay down their arms and get re-integrated into society under the government’s disarmament plan.
Known as Operation Safe Corridor, the government plans to the Nigerian Army announced that it would launch a scheme similar to the amnesty programme that was established for Niger Delta militants, under which repentant terrorists will be rehabilitated. Following the launch of the programme, 800 Boko Haram fighters have already decided to accept the military’s offer.
In support of the government’s plan, the EU has offered financial assistance to back up the rehabilitation programme. Richard Young, the deputy head of the EU delegation to Nigeria, said the community has decided to support the launch of Nigeria’s de-radicalisation programme guide.
He added that the guide was prepared under the European Union Technical Assistance to Nigeria’s Evolving Security Challenges and launched by the national security adviser retired Major General Babagana Monguno. Mr Young explained that the allocation was part of the EU’s support to Nigeria in the country’s efforts to address the challenge of insurgency in the northeast geo-political zone.
Mr Young added: “I will call what the EU is spending on this project is a substantial amount of money, it is millions. I will say it’s about €67m, which is the amount that has been allocated but this covers all the different aspects and support to the country’s violent extremism programme.
He added that the programme had been at a pilot stage, adding that it would be owned by the federal government afterwards. According to Mr Young, the programme was significant because it was one of the strategic responses to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“It’s designed to crystallise certain thinking and we all thought it will come to an end soon but it is being continued with finance from the Nigerian government. We are also at the same time, discussing or just initiated discussions with the Nigerian government about what form of support we might provide in this area,” he said.
According to Mr Young, the programme seeks to respond to the challenge of what to do with the Boko Haram fighters who have been captured. He added that the programme seeks, in effect, to de-radicalise them to find a pathway for them away from violent extremism, so that they can, in due course have more socially-constructive attitude.