The Nigerian military has handed over 86 Book Haram child soldiers who surrendered to troops in Borno State to the state government for subsequent rehabilitation.
Director, Defence Information,Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said they were handed over to the government through the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre, in Bulumkutu.
The military said on Thursday that the handover of the children fighters was part of efforts to ensure that minors and other repentant Boko Haram fighters in the North-East “were given the necessary support and opportunity to embrace peace through the auspices of Operation Safe Corridor.”
Nwachukwu said the children would be taken to the Borno State Rehabilitation Centre in Bulumkutu and monitored by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development,The children, whose ages range from 10 to 19, are billed to also undergo some childcare programmes.
He said: “The children fighters are part of over 1,370 Boko Haram combatants who have so far surrendered to the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole. After a thorough profiling and screening, the minors were considered suitable for the six-month deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme.
“Arrangement is ongoing to transfer another set of 500 repentant insurgents to Operation Safe Corridor for the DRR Programme. Operation Safe Corridor is a DHQ-led non-kinetic, multi-national and multi-agency humanitarian operation to encourage willing and repentant Boko Haram terrorists to shun extremism.”
The handover ceremony was witnessed by the Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo, and one UNICEF official, Mr Clement Adams.