Former members of the Boko Haram sect have called on Nigerians to forgive them.
The ex-members made the call while responding to questions from NAN, at a graduation de-radicalisation exercise and vocational training organised for them by the Nigerian government in Gombe State on Wednesday.
Bappah Musa, a farmer-turned member of the sect, who hails from Borno, said he was deceived into joining the group, only to realise that all they were told were lies, adding that he regretted all his actions while with the sect.
Musa, who was a farmer before he joined the sect, said: “I beg Nigerians for forgiveness. I regret totally what we were forced to do; it was not my intention but I beg for forgiveness. I was a humble farmer before I was deceived to join the Boko Haram sect. All they told us were different from all we were made to do; they lied to me and deceived many of us.
“My heart bleeds that we were used to destroy lives and property by the sect.
“Today, I am graduating as a trained shoemaker. I can make shoes of different brands; I am now an ambassador of peace."
Ababa Ali, a 62-year-old ex-Boko Haram member said: “I am deeply pained in my heart that we had been associated with such a devilish group; I beg Nigerians to forgive and accept us back. We were deceived and forced to join the sect. Because of my age, I was not allowed to partake in their operations, but was made to do menial jobs in their camps; we were also terrorised and enslaved, until the Army rescued us.
“We are grateful to the Federal Government for the show of love. The de-radicalisation training has been helpful and now I do not need to go home to beg, but to contribute what I have been taught.
“Nigerian youth out there, I tell you the truth; there is no gain being Boko Haram members, except for regret and intense sorrow. We pray that no youth witness the harsh conditions we were subjected to."