Yusuf Bello| 86 Boko Haram child fighters who voluntarily surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu were on Thursday handed over to Bornu state government by the Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC).
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu who disclosed this in a statement, explained that this was in an effort to ensure that minors and other repentant Boko Haram fighters in the North East were given the necessary support and opportunity to embrace peace through the auspices of OPSC.
He said, “Following the handover, the repentant child fighters would undergo comprehensive Child Care Programme sponsored and organised by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.”
According to Nwachukwu, the handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo, and a UNICEF official, Mr Clement Adams, among others.
The spokesman for the Defence Headquarters noted that the minors were considered suitable for the six months DRR programme after thorough profiling and screening.
He also revealed that arrangement was ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to OPSC for the programme.
OPSC is a military-led non-kinetic multi-national and multi-agency humanitarian operation conducted in tandem with extant international humanitarian laws to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists in the North East to shun violent extremism.
It is designed to also deradicalise, rehabilitate and reintegrate repentant Boko Haram combatants who willingly surrender to troops.
The operation, according to Nwachukwu, is a global model that enjoys collaboration and support from local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), as well as multi-national organisations such as UNICEF, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), and North East Regional Initiative (NERI).