About 1400 Boko Haram suspects have been released by the Nigerian military and rehabilitated into the society through the operation safe corridor programme. While the Federal Government of Nigerian through the Armed Force see this as a welcome development, the complications and possible dangers this brings has been highlighted by a cross-section of Nigerians who are currently battling the rise in kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Banditry, Cattle rustling, Farmers Herders clash and other internal security challenges which have been linked to some of the ‘repentant’ Boko Haram terrorists.
Many analysts have described the decision by the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram suspects as a fatal error that would only lead to multiplication of the security the nation is faced with.
Amnesty to Boko Haram Right Decision?
The decision by the Nigerian Government through the military to give amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents has been greeted with various reactions; of particular concern are the reactions from the wives of soldiers and officers who died at the front-lines while trying to protect the country from the grip of terrorists.
Many have said while the Armed Forces is of the view that de-radicalization of Boko Haram is one of the ways to end the decade long armed rebellion, it appears there is more to that that actually meets the eye.
Looking at the figure by the European Commission that 50 percent of households in Borno alone are at risk of not having enough to eat and over 1.8 million people in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa displaced. With 1.2 million persons which include women and children having no humanitarian assistance. Would it be safe to justify the actions of the Federal Government?
Government Terrorist Negotiations
It has also been emphasized that terrorists were not better than criminals like armed robbers and kidnappers who when caught are being made to face the full wrath of the law. Should terrorists then be given preferential treatment? Why would and should government feel the need to negotiate with terrorists?
After the kidnap of 276 Chibok school girls in April 2014, the Boko Haram Leader disclosed at that time that he would consider releasing the Chibok school girls as part of a prisoner Swap. That proposal put the Federal Government in a fixed situation but the demands of the terrorists was acceded to.
However on the 7th of May 2017, Eighty-two Chibok school girls were released after negotiations between the terrorist group Boko Haram and the Federal Government. The same solution was also put forward for the release of the Dapchi school girls kidnapped in 2018.
Amnesty For Niger Delta Versus Amnesty For Boko Haram
Though the Federal Government may be trying to replicate the amnesty program of the Niger Delta militants, a cross section of Nigerians believe that the situation are different, as the same “repentant terrorists” when re-integrated into the society pose great danger as they would have the believe they can have their way and cause mayhem, disrupting the peace and tranquility of the nation and still get pardoned and rewarded.
The National Vice President of Military Widows Association Mrs Edith Opesanmi said had at an interview insisted that “The Terrorists should face justice. You know they are involved in the killing and maiming of soldiers, so whenever they are arrested, they should be punished like any other criminal, we widows feel bad about it. Our husbands go to fight these terrorists and keep dying. The number of widows is increasing daily. Some of these widows are young ladies’.
Pathetic as it may seem, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara like Aminu Bello Massari of Katsina and Abubakar Sani BelloNiger states now see negotiation as the way to tackle banditry.
Mattawale when he visited the chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai in July 2019, told the Nigeria Army through the Chief Of Army Staff to scale down it operations in tackling banditry, saying negotiation has helped secured the release of those held hostage in the states.
But this effort has not solved the situation on ground, between January and February 2020 there has been thriving and reported cases of killings and kidnappings by the bandits in Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna States.
De-radicalization and the Way Forward?
In an exclusive interview with Roots TV, the leader of the FCT indigenes, Dalhatu Musa Ezekiel while condemning the de-radicalization program of the Federal Government to free Boko Haram Members said “What the Nigerian Military is doing is simply re-cycling insurgency, and there is danger looming ahead. An insurgent is an extremist, he is not dwelling all he Is doing based on how much you are giving him, an insurgent is an extremist that can sacrifice his life, thinking what he is doing is to the glory of God Almighty. You are rehabilitating terrorists who have seen Nigeria military as their number one enemy are been rehabilitated.”
The former Director at the Department of States services, Mike Ejiofor noted that release of the ‘repentant’ terrorists came at a wrong time especially when the war against insurgency is still ongoing.
He said “The program is not well-timed; you cannot be releasing Boko Haram suspects when the war is still ongoing. Ideally it is after the war has been fought and won that you can release those one that have need rehabilitated and de-radicalized. More than 2,000 so called repentant Boko Haram terrorists who murdered, raped, publicly executed both Muslims and Christians, castrated, burnt military locations and carried out suicide bombing in places of worship have been released back into the society, through a program ‘Operation Safe Corridor.”
While Boko Haram continues to kill, with the most recent been the killing of thirty persons who were traveling and became stranded after the military checkpoint leading into Maiduuri was closed. They had no choice but to sleep in Auno a neighboring village on the Maiduguri Damaturu High way. Unfortunately 18 vehicles comprising trailers, buses and cars were burnt by the insurgents who laid siege to the village.
Attacks have become a daily occurrence and lives continue to be lost. Can it be said that the re-habilitation and de-radicalized Boko Haram militants into the society is for the good of the nation. Is it not a sign of looming danger looking at the situation of things and how innocent lives are lost and citizens are gruesomely murdered?
With the reaction of the Federal Government to the recent attacks and judging from the statements emanating from the Presidency, it appears the Buhari’s led administration seem less committed to the fight against terror. Time and time again, the government continues to say the days of terrorists are numbered, but judging from the recent statement and visit of the President, and how disappointed people in the North East are. The current war being fought in Nigeria may not be far from over in years to come with the current approach to de-radicalize people who glaringly pose threats to the peace and tranquility