Some repentant Boko Haram terrorists were on Saturday, engaged in a sanitation exercise in communities across Maiduguri, the Borno capital.
The exercise was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with the Borno government, according to NAN report.
Some of the repentant insurgents wore T-shirts with inscriptions that read ‘Please forgive us’, ‘We have repented’, and ‘Let’s rebuild Borno again’.
Speaking on the exercise, Mala Mustafa, a senior research fellow with CDD, said the exercise is part of efforts to prepare them for their reintegration process.
“The rationale behind this exercise is for CDD to support the Borno state government as part of preparatory work for the reintegration of the ex-combatants,” Mustafa said.
“We felt it is imperative to change the narrative, particularly the negative perception about them among community members.
“We want to rebuild relationship and trust between those that surrendered and community members.”
He said 400 of the repentant insurgents have been mobilised for the exercise, with 50 of them participating this Saturday for a start in Maiduguri hajj camp.
The camp houses over 12,000 repentant insurgents and their families.
Mustafa said the exercise by the repentant insurgents would be gradually extended to selected communities in Maiduguri and neighbouring areas.
According to him, the participants have been provided with training, particularly on civic education, on how to deal with the challenges of stereotyping, while some Islamic clerics taught them on the consequences of extremism.
On his part, Abdullahi Ishaq, special adviser to the Borno governor on security, lauded the initiative by CDD.
“CDD provided the equipment for this exercise and has been providing us with technical advice as good partners,” Ishaq said.
He said the initiative taken by the government after years of insurgency led to the surrender of many insurgents, and also contributed to peace-building efforts in the state.
“Today, Maiduguri is more peaceful than Abuja. We want to continue to call on communities to support this sulhu (peace) process by accepting them,” Ishaq said.
He called for more assistance from well-meaning Nigerians and organisations in facilitating the process, which he said requires funding and other kinds of support.
In July, Christopher Musa, theatre commander of north-east joint task force of operation Hadin Kai, said more than 67,000 insurgents have surrendered to troops so far.