Reintegrating Ex-Combatants: An Assessment of Operation Safe Corridor


  • Idayat Hassan Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, Nigeria


Deradicalization, Operation Safe Corridor, Boko Haram, Ex-Combatants


This paper presents the findings of an assessment of a government-run deradicalization program called Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) in northeast Nigeria. OPSC is a restricted custodial program through which 900 ex-combatants have passed since 2015. The major aim of OPSC is the deradicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of repentant ex-combatants in the war-ravaged zone. Using a qualitative research framework, primary data were collected through Key Informant Interviews (KII) and Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with stakeholders across Borno, Adamawa, and Gombe, Nigeria. Using purposive sampling, a sample of 122 was drawn from the population of the study. which includes ex-combatants in holding, graduates of the OPSC, staff of the OPSC, community members, government officials, and representatives from the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF). A total of 50 KIIs and 6 FGDs were conducted with 72 participants across the three selected states. This was supplemented by a literature review. The findings show that while the OPSC has been lauded in terms of receptivity, deradicalization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, the program is challenged by issues of credibility and acceptance in the wider community. This paper documents the challenges associated with the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-terrorists in the context of ongoing terrorist attacks by their former group, particularly in communities that have been or continue to be affected by terrorism. It presents recommendations to address resentment and grievances in the affected communities, support community participation, and improve communications to combat popular resistance to OPSC.


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