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Military hands over 86 ‘repentant’ child fighters to Borno govt

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The Nigerian military Thursday handed over 86 Boko Haram child fighters to Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu for reintegration into the society.

The Acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, who disclosed this in a statement, said the fighters voluntarily surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.

Nwachukwu said the move was part of efforts 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.

According to him, the repentant child fighters would undergo comprehensive Child Care Programme sponsored and organized by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

He said the child fighters who are between ages 10 and 19 are part of the 1,370 Boko Haram fighters who have so far surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.

The Defence spokesman said: “After a thorough profiling and screening, the minors were considered suitable for the six months De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) programme.

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“Arrangement is also ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to Operation Safe Corridor for DRR Programme.

“The handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo and UNICEF Official, Mr. Clement Adams.

“They congratulated the surrendered fighters for laying down their arms and urged them to take advantage of the DRR programme to turn a new leaf and abandon the senseless struggle.

“Operation Safe Corridor is a Defence Headquarters 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.

“The operation is designed to also de-radicalise, rehabilitate and re-integrate repentant Boko Haram combatants who willingly surrender to troops.”

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