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FG to probe Borno gov’s claim on ‘repentant’ ex-combatants

There are indications that the Federal Government may investigate claims by Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, that some deradicalised Boko Haram fighters are providing intelligence to their adamant colleagues, thereby abandoning the oath of loyalty and fidelity they took upon surrendering to the State.


In its ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach to dealing with the insurgency in the North-East, the military had introduced the nonkinetic measure, which allowed war-weary terrorists elements to repent, by surrendering to troops.


Determined to ensure that the surrendered ex-combatants were adequately rehabilitated and reformed for onward integration into the society, the government had established a platform known as Operation Safe Corridor sometime in 2016.


While many had argued that such a programme designed to deradicalise excombatants ought to have been introduced at the end of the counter-insurgency war, authorities thought otherwise, insisting that same was yielding desired results.


The fear raised in many quarters was, however, confirmed a few days ago, when the Borno State Governor alleged that some of the repentant fighters were providing intelligence that may be responsible for heightened attacks by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs), and the splinter group, Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). New Telegraph’s investigation showed that the government may not be treating the allegation with kid gloves.


A top intelligence official, who spoke with this newspaper on the condition of anonymity, said though the governor’s allegation was not directed at the programme, action may be taken, nonetheless. “Operation Safe Corridor is a Federal Government programme established by the President himself, and it is part of  measures to resolve the conflict in the North-East.


“So if there are cases (issues), one would have expected that they should have been brought to the knowledge of the leaders of the programme. “If there are such cases, one would have expected them to be brought to the managers of the programme (Ops Safe Corridor), to see how things like that can be prevented,” the source said.


As at the time of filing this report, the Acting Director, Defence Information (DDI), Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had yet to reply to a message sent to him. Calls to his phone line had earlier indicated “switched-off”.


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