How Buhari Has Freed 1,629 “Repentant” Boko Haram Members

March 14, 2022

The final ceremony that turns a “repentant” Boko Haram terrorist into a responsible member of the Nigerian society is surprisingly glossy. Hundreds of men, dressed in uniform green and white attire, place their hands on the Holy Quran and promise to stop being bad boys. A bunch of people dressed in fancy clothes clap for them. Everybody goes home happy. 

This ceremony is the final component of Operation Safe Corridor (OSC).

Buhari started Operation Safe Corridor

Safe corridor for who?

In President Buhari’s wisdom, he set up a rehabilitation programme for Boko Haram in 2016. You may remember them as the terrorists that killed over 30,000 people in northern Nigeria from 2009 to 2021. 

The goal of Operation Safe Corridor is simple — provide incentives for terrorists to encourage them to stop killing people. The icing on that reward system is forgiveness for their past sins and freedom to return to the communities they used to terrorise.

Buhari started Operation Safe Corridor

How does it work?

As a terrorist tired of the bloodlust, all you have to do is surrender to the military. Then you’re screened and enrolled into the OSC programme that promises “de-radicalisation, rehabilitation, and reintegration” (DRR). You then undergo a series of medical screenings, psychological counselling, drug abuse counselling and vocational training, because an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.

Also, the military pumps you full of the western education juice that Boko Haram hates and fights against.

Buhari started Operation Safe Corridor

The repentant terrorists are also called “clients” for some reason. 

ALSO READ: How Does “Operation Safe Corridor” Work?

What’s the latest?

The Nigerian military rolled out a new batch of graduates of Operation Safe Corridor on March 13th, 2022. 559 clients took the oath to never do terrorist stuff ever again and were dispatched to communities where they’ll be reintegrated. The latest batch increases the number of OSC graduates to 1,629 since the programme launched. 

The pipeline of clients is expected to swell over the coming years, as over 5,000 terrorists reportedly surrendered to the military between May 2021 and January 2022 alone.

The government has been loud about the fact that only “low-risk” fighters are admitted into the programme. These low-risk fighters are those that were captured and forced to bear arms for Boko Haram. The government has also denied many claims that the former terrorists are recruited into the Nigerian military.

Who’s not happy with Operation Safe Corridor?

There’s a lot of public hostility towards Operation Safe Corridor. It’d take all day to list the many types of people that are not on board with the programme, but the most important group is the communities expected to accept the repentant terrorists (for obvious reasons). Many of them don’t believe that OSC graduates have changed just because of a few nice words. 

What’s worse is, some of these communities are still terrorised by the activities of Boko Haram. Many displaced victims have also not been resettled. These communities don’t understand why they are expected to live happily ever after with their tormentors when the war is still active.

Is Operation Safe Corridor working?

The effectiveness of OSC has been called into question many times. The government points to the volume of people that have surrendered as a success story. But critics don’t think that’s enough.

Thousands of fighters surrendered in 2021 only after the death of longtime Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau. His death left his group weak against the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) that has been fighting Boko Haram for territorial control. So, it’s plausible that these men and their families surrendered for survival and not because they’re truly repentant.

It’s difficult to determine how repentant these terrorists are, but the government is not slowing down in graduating them.

ALSO READ: 82 People Killed in 3 Days: Everything We Know About Kebbi Massacres

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

June 8, 2021

It’s been more than 72 hours since the federal government ordered the Twitter Ban, a decision that has denied millions of Nigerians without “You-Know-What” access to the social media platform. The question on everyone’s mind is “how much longer will this ill-thought-out and  extralegal decision hold?” The answer remains to be seen.  However, the Nigerian […]

August 19, 2020

Nigerian politicians are not normal, everyone knows. How do you even eat two pieces of roasted corn at the same time, one on each hand. How? Are you showing us how you’ll multitask when elected? Here’s how to handle street food according to Nigerian politicians: 5. First, Fry Plantain And Potato With The Seller 4. […]


Now on Zikoko

What She Said: I Hate the Word “Disabled”
December 7, 2022

This week’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is a 49-year-old Nigerian woman who lost a leg after an okada accident. She talks about waking up to find a stump where her leg used to be, what it’s like to lose a limb and what she thinks about how people treat amputees.

Recommended Quizzes

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

November 4, 2019

After successfully predicting when y’all are getting married (please, email any complaints to, we are back to tell you how much is currently in your account. How, you might ask? By using your taste in Nollywood, of course. Shhh. No questions. Just take it already:

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

More from Citizen

December 6, 2022

After keeping a track record of constantly dodging important campaign events the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, did the one thing we thought he could never do — attend a presidential town hall… …in Chatham House, London. Nigerans were confused when they heard the news on December 5, 2022, and they wondered […]

December 6, 2022

The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they choose their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections. This week’s subject of The Nigerian Voter is Umar, a tech freelancer in his early twenties […]

December 6, 2022

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has a track record of suing Buhari every three market days. The organisation has dragged the president to court over the embezzlement of ₦1.4 trillion meant for oil refineries, and for his failure to publish the repatriation details of Abacha’s $23 million loot, amongst others. The list of […]

December 5, 2022

After two months of back and forth, we’re pleased to announce the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has finally released his manifesto! The manifesto has attracted mixed reactions from fans and haters alike since Obi announced the 72-page document on December 4, 2022. But, what exactly is the content of this […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.