The Deradicalised is a five-part series.
In 2016, the Nigerian government launched a multi-sectoral programme tagged “Operation Safe Corridor” to deradicalise and rehabilitate “low-risk” Boko Haram members and encourage insurgents to embrace peace. But years into its operation and after about a thousand people were graduated in different batches, extraordinarily little was really known about the programme as it was run by the military. The details about its effectiveness and processes were shrouded in secrecy.
This series does not only focus on the programme itself but also the varied personal experiences of the participants as they relate to the Boko Haram insurgency. I found out that, out of the five people interviewed, only two were truly Boko Haram militants, out of whom only one seemed genuinely remorseful. Others were victims of circumstances: Abducted by Boko Haram or falsely accused to have been part of the terror group by the Nigerian military and paramilitary personnel.
The series generally highlights different shades of injustices committed by Boko Haram, violations of human rights by the Nigerian military, and inadequacies in the deradicalisation programme itself, which is positioned as a means to deescalating the conflict. Security sources have, in confidence, confirmed that the facts reported in the series are accurate; and many members of the public have confessed that the reports for the first time provided a fresh understanding of the Boko Haram insurgency they did not have initially. One of the focuses of the series was the inhumane conditions innocent civilians were/are subjected to in various military detention facilities under the guise of counter-insurgency operations.
Less than four months after the publication of the fifth and final part, the Nigerian military confirmed that it had cleared 1,004 inmates in these detention centres for release after they had been confirmed to be innocent. Many of them have, of course, languished there for at least five years. This is the largest single batch of release from these facilities.