Rethinking reintegration in Nigeria: community perceptions of former Boko Haram combatants

Tarela Ike, Danny Singh, Dung Ezekiel Jidong, Sean Murphy, Evangelyn Ebi Ayobi

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Since the emergence of Boko Haram and its terrorist activities in Nigeria, policy initiatives have included deradicalisation and reintegration of former combatants to curtail extremism and bolster stability. Central to deradicalisation is the efficacy of reintegration programmes. While much emphasis is placed on recidivism as a basis for determining the efficacy of reintegration programmes, studies on how communities perceive the reintegration of deradicalised former combatants, and those labelled terrorists, are scarce. To address this issue of the quality of reintegration programmes, a qualitative method using semi-structured interviews was employed for this study. Twenty-four Christian and Muslim participants were recruited from Lagos and Plateau states in Nigeria. Thematic data analysis was deployed from a social identity theoretical framework. The study found perceived indifference and fear regarding the ability of former Boko Haram combatants to genuinely reform or repent from terrorist acts. The study therefore recommends the provision of context-specific counter-narratives that shift the perceived public
fear of unrepentant former combatants to a more positive outlook. Such optimism can embrace reconciliation to aid the successful reintegration of former terrorist combatants into Nigerian communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-678
Number of pages18
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021


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