By Prudence Arobani
Nigeria has engaged psychologists and counsellors to pioneer rehabilitation and de-radicalisation of convicted Boko Haram terrorists.
The country is also utilising Islamic scholars to counter extremist narratives by training them on aspects of dialogues and religious counselling.
The Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Amb. Samson Itegboje, unveiled the plan when he presented Nigeria’s statement to the UN Security Council on the recent visit of the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and other top women officials of the UN to Nigeria.
“We are also working assiduously with the affected communities to design economic revitalisation prograrnmes targeted at people most affected by terrorism and violent extremism,” he said.
The Nigerian envoy seized the opportunity to assure the Security Council that following the recent release of 82 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, the Federal Government has intensified efforts at securing the release of the remaining girls.
He added that government was also not leaving any stone unturned in securing the release of any other abducted girls and women, including freeing them from the ideological grips of Boko Haram terrorists.
“Having regained their freedom, it is equally important that they regain their self-esteem and be assisted to return to their families and back to their schools.
“Furthermore, emergency teams of psycho-social counselors and health professionals have been dispatched to the northeast to assist with the profiling of victims for appropriate therapies,” he said.
In addition, the Federal Government has put in motion legal remedies for victims of Boko Haram terrorism in the form of rape and other sexual violence against children, abduction of children and other grave violations,” Itegboje said.
According to him, other remedies of legal and social nature taken so far by the Federal Government, include diligent prosecution of 203 detained Boko Haram terrorists in competent courts of law as well as the reintegration, reorientation and rehabilitation programmes designed to meet the peculiarities of each victim of sexual violence.
“Nigerian Government launched the Safe School Initiative, aimed at providing education and piloting safe education facilities in the conflict affected areas of the northeast.
The Deputy Permanent Representative, said Nigeria also endorsed the ‘Safe Schools Declaration’ by which it committed to implementing the ‘Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict’.
The Deputy Ambassador said Nigeria commended the works of all the UN agencies actively working with Nigeria to ensure the restoration of peace, security and development in the Northeast.
“However, Nigeria also believes that better coordination and coherence of the work of these UN agencies in the region would enhance efficiency in the work being done in Nigeria.
“This will achieve better result and avoid situation where agencies work at cross purposes. We call for a coordinated approach by the UN agencies in order to avoid working at cross purpose and to deliver the needed results
“As we speak, all the service chiefs are in the northeast; military and paramilitary personnel have been increased in the IDP camps,” Itegboje said.
He commended Mohammed for taking such an important trip to Nigeria to highlight the importance of women’s role in achieving peace and sustainable development.
“We recommit to ensuring that women and girls enjoy full rights and that those who have perpetrated sexual violence are dealt with in accordance with our national laws and international obligations,” the Nigerian envoy assured.