Proceedings of The 3rd World Conference on Social Sciences
Nigeria’s Troubled History with Demobilizing, Deradicalizing and Reintegrating Armed Non-State Actors: An Assessment of Operation Safe Corridor
Mustapha Salihu, Ph.D. Candidate and Yahaya Yakubu
The study examines the prospects and challenges of Operation Safe Corridor (OSC), Nigeria’s prison deradicalization program, as part of broader efforts to counter the influence of Boko Haram and lessons from earlier attempts at deploying DDR. Experience from the Biafran separatist movement, and that of the Niger Delta militants highlights the limitations of DDR in affording alternative exit for combatants and in fostering sustainable peace agreement. Noticeably, OSC unlike previous attempts has limited scope and coverage, OSC takes a cue from the traditional model of DDR, which focuses on DDR of ex-combatants. A review of OSC’s implementation framework show, women and children associated with Boko Haram are considered secondary, despite constituting a major source for suicide bombers. In addition, communities where repentant combatants are to be reintegrated have also been left out of the process. The narrowly conceived program not only puts to question the genuineness of the program, there is also no evidence to suggest OSC has been able to entice combatants to voluntarily defect. As with earlier programs, the success ratio of the OSC could be hampered by its lack of inclusion, flawed implementation, and vague reintegration strategies amongst other challenges. To maximize the potentials of the OSC, the study recommends a widening its scope; and commitment of resource to alleviate the plight of Boko Haram victims and receiving communities. Given the high cost of running a prison-based deradicalisation program, there is need to foster accountability and transparency to attract development partners, expertise and donor funds to guarantee continuity.
Keywords: Armed Non-State Actors, Demobilization, Deradicalization and Reintegration, Biafra Separatist, Niger-Delta Militants, Boko-Haram, and Operation Safe Corridor.