For three days, from Wednesday June 28, to Friday, June 30, 2017, no less than 100 participants including religious, traditional and community leaders from the three north east states most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency converged in Maiduguri the Borno State capital.

They came together as part of The Kukah Centre’s (TKC) Community Engagement forum – Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration in Post-Boko Haram in North-East.

According to the founder of the Centre and Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Rev. Mathew Hassan Kukah, the Centre organized the programme which brought together participants from communities in the three most affected states –  Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, mainly for the participants to tell their stories, rather than bring politicians to tell it on their behalf.

He said, “It is important for them to talk about the strategies they used that have made them as resilient as they have now become.”

Kukah also said, “The most important point is that this is a reflection of what is captured in the Centre’s mission and vision; which is getting the voices of ordinary people in policy that concerns them. It’s our hope that the report from the forum, when released, will reveal the views that were expressed and what the concerns of the people are.”

Coordinator of the project, Rev. Fr. Atta Barkindo said in his concept note that, the reality and impact of the Boko Haram insurgency has led to various counter-terrorism policies.

He said, “Central to these policies is countering radicalisation and extremism among affected, marginalised and excluded communities.

“In addition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill passed in 2011, the Nigerian government established the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), to deradicalise Boko Haram members and to Counter the culture of violent extremist ideology.”

Barkindo added that, “In 2015, the Federal Government, with the support of the European Union also developed a framework for the deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of Boko Haram members.”

However, towards the end of 2015, the deradicalization project of the government was suspended, pending a review and re-organisation. According to him, in spite of the suspension, certain gaps were obvious in the deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration framework.

He said, “First, the project concept laid emphasis on the reintegration of Boko Haram violent extremists only but without a framework for its implementation. Second, the concept note did not consider the reinsertion of CAAFG, WAAFG, IDPs, Boko Haram Dependents and other special groups. Third, there was no established framework and action plan for engaging communities, and preparing these communities for the eventual return of Boko Haram members, victims and other special groups.”

He also said, “Importantly, no consideration was given for the socio-economic, environmental and religious context into which these groups will be reinserted, and how to mitigate the challenges therein before their reinsertion so as to avoid recidivism, especially among Boko Haram combatants.”

The objectives of the community engagement include – i) Engagement of key community leaders on issues of deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-insurgents into the community. ii) Facilitating and deepening dialogue between all stakeholders – traditional/community leaders/government/development partners. iii) Giving a voice to affected communities – sharing of testimonials and, iv) Documentary of testimonials (traditional/community leaders); publication of policy briefs and workshop report.

At the end of the engagement, questions were developed to guide facilitators/discussions during the workshop sessions and covered the following areas – i) What are the root causes of violence and conflict? (perspective of traditional/community leaders) ii) What local solutions have been successful and can be scaled up? iii) What has been the role of traditional and local leaders? iv) How did the phenomenon of host communities evolve and what are the challenges faced? v) How can Development partners leverage support for deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration. vi) What are the lessons learnt from the NSA deradicalisation programme? vii) What is the role of traditional/community leaders in the three areas namely deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration?

This event, according to Kukah, “is the beginning of a longer conversation which will feed into a subsequent meeting to take place in Abuja. That will involve policymakers who will hear the initiatives of these people and also know how they feel and what they think.”

Photo: The Kukah Centre

 

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