The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists to ensure the absolute return of peace in Nigeria’s north-east region.
He gave the recommendation on Tuesday while addressing a gathering in Borno after visiting a camp housing people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the state.
Guterres, who is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such, believes the reintegration of persons forced to join terrorist groups during the over a decade-long insurgency will go a long way in bringing back peace in the region.
“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he said.
Amid mixed reactions trailing the government’s plan to reintegrate repentant terrorists into the society, the UN scribe sees the move as a step in the right direction.
His tour of an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp, according to him, shows that the people affected by terrorism want above all to go back home in safety and dignity.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced out of their homes in the wake of the insurgency that has lasted over a decade.
While the Nigerian government says it is winning the war against the terrorists, hundreds of Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have surrendered their arms to the military.
Guterres described Borno as now a place of hope, adding that the way to fight terrorism effectively was to invest in livelihoods, reintegration, and people’s futures.
“The Borno I found today (Tuesday) is a Borno of hope, it’s a Borno with future,” he said. “The people I met today in the IDP camp want to go back home in safety and dignity.
“The way to address terrorism effectively is to provide not only hope but a future of reality. When I went around with the thousands and thousands of people that were there, I saw smiles, I saw enthusiasm, I saw hope, and this is where we must invest.”