Nigeria: Community’s Perception of Legitimate Authority Matters for Rehabilitation and Reintegration
In Nigeria, current strategies for the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders— as exemplified by the government-initiated Operation Safe Corridor—have lacked the community support and assistance needed to ensure their success. Through a series of five workshops with traditional and religious leaders and government representatives, conducted across Bauchi and Abuja, as well as an intensive literature review, ICCT has devised a series of policy recommendations implementable by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) centred on community inclusion in Rehabilitation & Reintegration (R&R) programming across Nigeria, and the Sahel. Our research found that the perceived legitimacy of government authorities when it comes of rehabilitation and reintegration differs across various communities in Nigeria. Therefore, it is necessary to include Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)/traditional authorities in R&R programming in certain communities as their perceived legitimacy supersedes that of the government. In addition, inclusion of CSOs in R&R programming is essential in order to increase trust between government and local communities due to the long-standing relationship that CSOs have with those communities. Thus, in the Nigerian context where in most communities CSOs might be the only actors who have access to those associated with violent extremism and who denounce government legitimacy, the CSOs can bridge any interests between authorities and communities.