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‘We Didn’t Expect Such Hospitality From Nigerian Govt’, Ex-Boko Haram Fighter Recounts Experience During De-radicalisation Process

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Abdulwahab Usman, one of the 601 repentant Boko Haram fighters who were reintegrated into their various communities in July, after successfully completing their Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) programme of the Nigerian Army, has recounted his experience during the programme.

The Punch reports Usman said he never expected such hospitality showed to him and his fellow insurgents by the government during the programme, recalling how they were well taking care of during the de-radicalisation process.

“None of us was killed during the de-radicalisation process. I really enjoyed my stay in the camp because many of us were not expecting such hospitality from the Nigerian government. We were well taken care of,” he said.  

“They taught us different trades. In the camp, we were exposed to skill acquisition such as welding, barbing and carpentry etc. But I chose to learn barbing. When I return to my hometown, I wish to continue with barbing.”

The ex-Boko Haram fighter also recounted how he was forced into the terrorist group five years ago.

“I was forced into the group for about five years,” he said. I can’t remember the number of people I killed as a Boko Haram member because they are many.

“Boko Haram people came to our village looking for those who are of school age and that was how my friends and me were forced into the group. Eventually, we escaped from Boko Haram hideout, so soldiers took us to Giwa barracks in Borno.”

Usman vowed not to return to the Boko Haram terrorist group. “I will not go back to Boko Haram,” he said.

He said the government gave them Quran “because of our assurance that we would become good citizens.

He added, “I will not return to that group (Boko Haram) no matter the suffering since the government has chosen to be responsive.”

The ex-Boko Haram fighter also urged the government to extend its assurances to the other insurgents who are willing to surrender. 

“The Nigerian government should present them a document assuring them of their safety once they surrender,” he said. 

He added that the 602 of them had surrendered because they saw the document promising them rehabilitation.

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