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

May 15, 2020

For reasons best known to me (I’m bored, wistful and stir crazy, stuck at home with two sexagenarians), I have been dutifully spending a large percentage (I can’t say how large, this is a work post) of my day, researching the first few abroads I plan on living in when this whole ordeal is over. […]

bayelsa by-election
November 26, 2020

A few weeks, ago we wrote about the by-elections that will be taking place on December 5, 2020, including the most important things you need to know. In addition to that, we will be writing about the candidates in the Bayelsa West and Bayelsa Central senatorial by-elections. This is because it is important for you […]


Now on Zikoko

July 4, 2022

Is love enough or is it all about money? How do you receive either when you had a broken childhood? These are the questions *Kate answers in her story about unlearning the idea that love is equivalent to enduring financial struggles with her partner.

July 4, 2022

When women refuse to follow society’s script, all hell breaks loose. We receive a range of reactions — from parents weeping to random people’s comments — and we’re sick of it. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t say to women who don’t want kids.

July 4, 2022

Lending people money can be very risky. You have to be ready to fight or say bye-bye to your money for the sake of peace. If you’ve already made the terrible mistake of giving out your hard-earned money, then you can never be too prepared for the process of getting it back. We put together […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

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:

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

More from Citizen


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

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.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

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.