The Senate on Thursday started work on a bill for a law seeking the establishment of a national agency for education and rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram insurgents.

When it eventually becomes a law, it will ensure de-radicalisation of repentant Boko Haram militants and other insurgents.

The bill, which was sponsored by the All Progressives Congress member representing Yobe East Senatorial District, and former governor of Yobe State, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, passed the first reading on Thursday.

But few hours after it passed the first reading, the bill attracted mixed reactions with the Chibok Community, which was attacked by the insurgents in 2014, and the Christian Association of Nigeria condemning it.

It was, however, supported by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwamkur Samuel, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he was not aware of any nation that had successfully undertaken the project of de-radicalising, rehabilitating and empowering terrorists.

He stated, “We shall be ready for them at the public hearing on such bills. If the Federal Government is not having an ulterior motive of rewarding terrorism through that bill as most Nigerians believe, the FG, instead, would have put a bill in place that will provide adequate relief materials for victims of terrorism, and concrete measures proposed for adequate compensation for them as well.

“If Nigerian government had taken full responsibility and liability for the welfare and adequate compensation for victims of insurgency, they would have known well if they have defeated Boko Haram or not. They would have also known very well the kind of persons and group of persons that constitute the victims of Boko Haram, kidnapping, and killers Fulani militias.

“Like we have always said, it is the conviction of many Christian and indeed Nigerians that the Federal Government is trying to make insurgency a lucrative business for the large number of unemployed Nigerian youths and young persons, if not what is the justification of the special attention been given to the terrorists at the detriment of the welfare of the victims and the security agents fighting in the bush?”

NSCIA backs Senate

But the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs said it supported the bill.

The NSCIA’s Head (Media and Communication), Ibrahim Aselemi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The NSCIA believes that tackling the hydra-headed monster of insurgency, brigandage and kidnapping requires a multi-sectoral approach. Therefore, the council supports this solution-based effort, especially that which follows the law of first principle. We are positive that these efforts together with others will end insurgency in the country.”

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