Borno State Government on Wednesday launched a public campaign designed to reconcile and reintegrate repentant Boko Haram members despite pushback over the move.
The programme funded by European Union (EU) is being executed in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP, and IOM.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the Shehu of Borno Palace on Wednesday in Maiduguri, commissioner of information and culture Babakura Abba-Jato said there is the need to accept the repentant insurgents, particularly women and children, who are also victims that were forced to stay with the insurgents.
Abba-Jato said investigation showed that majority of the 6,000 that surrendered were women and children and some men in communities occupied by the insurgency who were forced to farm for the insurgents.
“We also have those that carry arms that are being profiled by the authorities in line with international laws relating to such development,” Abba-Jato said.
He explained that the ministry of women affairs would be handling the affected women and children for now.
UNICEF Maiduguri chief of field office Phuong Nguyen, who also pleaded support for the reconciliation and reintegration programme, stressed the need for active involvement of the traditional institution.
“Your royal highness, these are our children, neighbours, brothers and sisters who were caught on one side of the conflict.
“Many of them remained in territories formerly controlled by non-state armed groups and exploited as labourers, cooks, armour carriers, spies and farmhands. Others were forcefully married and tortured.
“There is no doubt that over the years, these boys and girls have experienced harrowing times and subjected to multiple violations of their human rights,” Nguyen said.