By John Ikani
Community leaders in Borno State, Nigeria, have on Sunday agreed to accept repentant Boko Haram terrorists into their communities.
The meeting was called by Governor Babagana Zulum, after 3,900 terrorists surrendered to Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities.
Zulum wanted the stakeholders that included the security agencies, lawmakers, traditional rulers, religious leaders, academics and civil rights groups, to take a common position about how to deal with the repentant terrorists.
It was gathered that various stakeholders at the meeting, which lasted five hours, presented their views on how the former terrorists should be accepted and treated in society. They, however, gave conditions that must be met before the remorseful terrorists are accepted into various communities.
At the end of the meeting, a 16-point communique was signed by the Borno State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaka-Shehu Lawan.
According to the communique, the stakeholders called on the federal and state government to “handle the issue of repentant Boko Haram insurgents with utmost care and within the instrumentality of the law.
The meeting emphasised the need for “proper profiling of the repentant Boko Haram insurgents to avoid hasty release of hardening elements to the larger society.”
They called on Borno citizens to “key into the educational opportunities created by the state government especially by enrolling their children and wards to schools as a countermeasure for indoctrination.”
The meeting also agreed on the need for the establishment of a world-class deradicalization/rehabilitation centre in Borno State being the epicentre of the insurgency.
The stakeholders, however, called on the Nigerian military “to sustain the ongoing offensive on the activities of ISWAP”.
While calling for a periodic media briefing on the activities of the surrendered Boko Haram terrorists as a means of keeping the public abreast of developments, the attendees also insisted that “all firearms and offensive weapons used by the insurgents be retrieved from them.”
The meeting was attended by many government functionaries, religious and traditional rulers, security operatives and members of the civil society. Key speakers at the meeting were members of the National Assembly, state lawmakers, soldiers and other representatives of security agencies, victims of the insurgency, religious leaders, elderly residents, representatives of civic groups, as well as representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Union of Journalists.