UN uncovers FG’s Secret Payments, Free Apartment and Training for Boko Haram commanders.
According to a report by The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News), a secret Nigerian government programme known as Suhlu is aimed at removing top commanders of terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) from the forests, rehabilitating them, and providing them with a means of livelihood.
Sulhu, according to the UN, arose from behind-the-scenes efforts to free the more than 270 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 and is hailed by supporters as smart warfare – a way to remove senior jihadists from the battlefield more effectively than a traditional military campaign.
The discovery comes as a result of intelligence agencies’ investigations into the recent surrender to the Nigerian government of over 1,200 terrorists and their families to determine whether the surrender was genuine or a ruse to activate and coordinate terror sleeper cells across the country.
The government of Borno State announced its decision to reintegrate over 1,000 repentant Boko Haram fighters into society, according to Nigerian media. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East, on the other hand, were irritated by the development.
The IDPs were enraged because they were still suffering from the pain and sorrow caused by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, particularly in Borno State, the insurgency’s epicentre.
Following the IDPs’ outcry, Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum said the state was in a “very difficult situation” as a result of the ongoing surrender of Boko Haram insurgents and the opposition of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to accepting the repentant terrorists.
Also, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanem, the Shehu of Borno, expressed concern that the communities where terrorists killed thousands of people and destroyed homes might not be in the right frame of mind to accept the surrendered insurgents.
However, according to a six-month investigation by The New Humanitarian, Sulhu was reaching out to “senior jihadist fighters” in the bush to persuade them to abandon their goal of establishing a caliphate by force of arms and defect.
According to the UN, the programme is so divisive that no government official has agreed to speak publicly about it, and only a few Nigerian civil society figures have agreed to be named.
According to the report, an Abuja-based analyst who did not want to be identified said, “We have a proof of concept; it’s working.” The enemy’s fighting force is being depleted.”
The men on the Sulhu programme, on the other hand, are almost certain to have participated in atrocities. Even though they have not been granted amnesty, it is unlikely that they will face justice for the crimes they committed during the brutal conflict, which is now in its twelfth year.
The Nigerian government has also stated that it will not prosecute the repentant terrorists, despite calls from various stakeholders, including those from the north.
According to the report, one Malam Aliyu, a Boko Haram/ISWAP commander who was involved in the 2014 Bama massacre that killed hundreds of civilians, was given a rent-free house in Kaduna, a business licence, and a small monthly stipend from Nigeria’s Department of State Service (DSS).
“These are mass killers, yet on a programme sponsored by Nigerian taxpayers,” according to a former government-Boko Haram intermediary who did not want to be identified in an interview with The New Humanitarian.
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the Sulhu programme said that since 2019, 150 mujahideen have surrendered their weapons and crossed over.
According to people familiar with the programme, “a total of 150 mujahideen have surrendered their weapons and crossed over since 2019.” Following the death in May of Abubakar Shekau, who had led Boko Haram since 2009, there has been a separate surge related to internal feuding within the jihadist movement.
“Some of the mujahideen, such as Aliyu, were qaid – district commanders – in charge of several districts. The initial group was given such prominence that they were invited to Abuja, where they met with representatives of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Defectors are enrolled in a six-month “deradicalisation” course at the military’s demobilisation and reintegration centre in Mallam Sidi, northeastern Gombe State, under sulhu. They are given a graduation certificate signed by a high court judge after promising to renounce violence and be good citizens, and some have gone on to start businesses ranging from cap-making to chicken-rearing.
“Sulhu is run by the DSS and the military, but it is distinct from the army’s much larger disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration programme, Operation Safe Corridor (OSC), which is based in Mallam Sidi as well.
“OSC is aimed at low-risk former combatants, though up to 75% of those on the programme may never have held a weapon – simply villagers caught up in the military’s catch-all dragnets and held without charge for years.
“Those who support such initiative are the turbaned rivals seen in low-resolution YouTube videos, exultant in victory and killing without remorse. These men had been obedient to a maximalist “takfir” creed promoted by then-leader Shekau, who declared that anyone living outside their zone of control was an infidel, punishable by death or enslavement.”
Before joining ISWAP, before the 2016 split from Boko Haram, these men had been obedient to a maximalist “takfir” creed, promoted by then-leader Shekau, who declared that anybody living outside their zone of control was an infidel, punishable by death or enslavement.”
Many Nigerians have expressed their concern over the ugly development.
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