The Federal Government on Friday said 101 convicted terrorists and those awaiting trial have been moved from custodial centre to a deradicalisation camp for onward reintegration into the society.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the National Security Council (NSC) meeting at Aso Villa in Abuja.
Irabor and some ministers including Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi; attended the NSC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Controversy had surrounded the release of 101 convicted terrorists after the vicious insurgents, who kidnapped train travellers in Kaduna on March 28, released the last batch of their abductees on October 5.
However, speaking on Friday, Irabor said the ex-combatants were moved from custodial centre to Operation Safe Corridor which was established by the Federal Government in 2016 to receive repentant terrorists.
The CDS said, “The council was also briefed that a total of 101 ex-combatants were taken to Operation Safe Corridor and currently undergoing the process of deradicalisation at the centre.
“These were ex-combatants that have been in detention for several years some of whom have served their terms, others were those who were awaiting trial because of the long time that they have been involved and in line with the procedure for handling anyone who has been exposed to terrorism and related offences.”
Also, Aregbesola said the ex-combatants were moved for deradicalisation and onward reintegration into the society, noting that there was a court order to that effect.
“Actually, there was a judicial order on them which necessitated their transfer from the detention centre to the deradicalisation camp. So, those are the only thing I could add that as a result of a legal decision on their status in detention, those 101 ex-combatants which you want to refer to as terrorist detainees had been moved from the custodial facility to a more appropriate camp for deradicalisation.”
For over a decade, bloodthirsty fighters of the Boko Haram group and its splinter, Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have wreaked havoc in parts of the country, especially the North-East zone of Nigeria with Borno, Adamawa and Yobe having the highest casualty figure in the past years.
The President last week Thursday said his government has devised both military and non-military methods to quell the insurgency war.
“We have devised both military and non-military methods to intervene, and even rolled out an amnesty programme to rehabilitate repentant terrorists who surrendered and laid down their arms unconditionally,” Buhari had said.
You Can’t Procure AK-47 Rifles, FG Tells Ortom, Akeredolu
Similarly, the Federal Government said no state governor or government has the right to acquire assault rifles without its approval.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Thursday had issued a one-month ultimatum to the Federal Government to give the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards licence to bear AK-47 rifles, saying his people will make a categorical decision on the matter next month if the Federal Government continues its refusal.
Reacting on Friday, Aregbesola said, “Let’s first debunk one ugly insinuation and false information that we have been getting all over the place. No state government has been empowered to arm any of its security operatives or agency.”
“There is a procedure for whoever wants to legally bring in any weapons to follow. And whoever is authorised by the law of the land to bring in legitimate ammunition, including the army, must go through that process. So, whoever wants to import ammunition or weapons is advised to go through the legitimate process,” the minister noted.
Of late, some state governments have come together to establish regional security agencies to halt kidnapping-for-ransom, herdsmen attacks, banditry, pockets of terrorism, amongst others which continue to plague Nigeria.
Whilst the Amotekun Corps is operational in the South-West since 2020, the five South-East governors established Ebubeagu in 2021 to complement efforts by conventional security agencies.
Like Ortom, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has continued to call on the Federal Government to give Amotekun Corps a licence to bear arms, saying it is discriminatory for Kastina State Government-owned security agency to be granted the privilege whilst others like Amotekun are denied such status.
However, the Presidency has insisted that no state has the right to procure assault rifles for its security outfit.