A bill proposing the establishment of a national agency to cater for repentant members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect and insurgent groups in the country on Thursday passed first reading on the floor of the Senate.
The bill titled “National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De – radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020) SB 340), is sponsored by the former governor of Yobe State, Senator Ibrahim Geidam, representing Yobe East.
Irrespective of the mixed reactions that greeted recent pronouncement by the Federal Government to give amnesty to and rehabilitate more than 100 repentants insurgents, the sponsor of the bill said establishment of the agency will “provide avenue for reconciliation and promote national security”.
Extract from the bill reads: “The main aim of this Bill is to among others, Provide avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalizing, educating and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and detained members of the insurgent group Boko Haram to make therm useful members of the society”.
Other justifications include to provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group especially in the face of the military pressure, and gives the government an opportunity to derive insider-information about the insurgent group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings.
“Gaining greater understanding of the insurgents will enable govermnent to address the immediate concerns of violence and study the needs of de-radicalization effort to improve the process of de-radicalization”.
Finally, the sponsor believed that the agency, if established, will “help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the programme will enable some convicted or suspected terrorists to express remorse over their actions, repent and recant their violent ideology and re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society”.
The bill was read for the first time during plenary on Thursday.
After the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North) mentioned the bill which was listed as item three under presentation of bills, the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh read the short title of the bill and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo – Agege (Delta Central) who presided over the plenary ruled that the bill be submitted for further legislative actions.