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Group condemns release of repentant Boko Haram terrorists back into communities

...Calls for an end to de-radicalization program

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the release of over 1,935 repentant Boko Haram terrorists back into society between 2016 and 2022 after undergoing what it described as highly doubtful and unlawful deradicalization.

The rights group considered this practice as the gravest threat to national security and squarely attributed the escalating insecurity in Nigeria to the actions of security institutions who are busy releasing hardened and ideologically rooted terrorists back into the society even when their victims are yet to get justice for the heinous crimes against humanity done against them.

In a Press Statement released today, HURIWA emphasized the concerns raised by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, during a lecture at the opening session of a national security course on “Psychological Operations and Strategic Communication (PSYOPS)” organized by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

According to General Musa, the release of repentant terrorists is part of non-kinetic efforts aimed at countering insurgency.

HURIWA’s Statement, signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, challenged the wisdom of releasing individuals responsible for heinous crimes back into society. The association contended that those who have committed crimes should face the consequences of their actions rather than being integrated back into the community.

The revelation by the Chief of Defence Staff that 106,000 terrorists and their family members have surrendered in the North East further raised significant concerns for HURIWA.

The association argued that the assumption of successful de-radicalization and integration into society is flawed, with evidence suggesting that some individuals later participate in or support activities contributing to ongoing insecurity in Nigeria.

Drawing comparisons with practices in Europe and America, HURIWA noted that these regions prioritize holding individuals accountable for their actions rather than opting for de-radicalization programs. The association asserted that such lenient approaches may be contributing to the persistence of insecurity in the country.

Hence, HURIWA called on the Chief of Defence Staff and other relevant authorities to reconsider the practice of releasing repentant terrorists, urging the prioritization of more robust measures that ensure justice is served. The association recommended a comprehensive review of the deradicalization process, emphasizing the protection of the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

In addition, despite the Chief of Defence Staff’s assertion that the military has increased the use of both hard and soft power in counter-insurgency operations, HURIWA remains unconvinced. The association maintained that the potential risks associated with reintegrating such individuals into society outweigh the benefits.

In conclusion, HURIWA emphasized that the primary responsibility of security institutions is to safeguard the lives and well-being of citizens. Releasing individuals with a history of violence and terrorism back into society, according to HURIWA, poses an unacceptable risk to national security.

The association urged the immediate cessation of such practices and disclosed plans to engage with relevant stakeholders, including government agencies and international partners, to address these concerns and advocate for a more effective and accountable approach to countering insurgency in Nigeria.

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