Editorial: Amnesty to Boko Haram, a sheer waste of time

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The Federal Government in 2016 began plan to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members that are willing to lay down their arms and embrace peace. The aim of the Buhari-led government is to ensure that the ten years old war should be put to an end by any means possible in order to restore normalcy to the war-torn Borno state and other parts of Adamawa and Yobe states.

The amnesty programme is an operation of the Defense Headquarters through Operation Safe Corridor (OSC), a counterinsurgency approach aimed at rehabilitating low-risk repentant Boko Haram fighters and reintegrate them back into the society. Through the OSC, the Defense Headquarters introduced rehabilitation programme that involves vocational training, access to radicalisation and civic programmes. While the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said it has registered about 900 repentant boko haram members, the Nigerian Army has rehabilitated 893 ex-members of the terrorist organisation.

We are yet to reconcile the fact that President Muhammadu Bihari, prior to his presidency had flayed the amnesty programme initiated by late President Umar Yar’adua for Niger-Delta militants. During an interview he granted at the St. James Square in London, the President categorically said he would be unfair to the system if he granted amnesty to the insurgents. Few years into his administration, his government changed the tune of the music.

The Nigerian Army said over 1,000 Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) members have surrendered to the troops in Borno state in the month of August. This recent victory of the army is not unconnected with the death of the leader of the Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau who was killed by rival group, ISWAP, in June.

‘Repentant’ Boko Haram being celebrated

The Buhari-led government have not made known the position on the matter but the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the insurgents who surrendered to the government could still be prosecuted.

There have been apprehensive presumption amongst Nigerians that the repentant terrorists would be granted amnesty rather than allow them to face the full wrath of the law.

We are fully in support of any initiative to restore peace and socioeconomic activities to the northeast, but granting amnesty to Boko Haram members is not one of such initiatives. We are of the firm opinion that granting amnesty to these criminals only gives false legitimacy to crime. A precedent that should be avoided.

We are not ignorant of the desperation of the federal government to put a lasting end to insurgency, however, millions of Nigerians have been displaced and turned to Internally Displaced Persons in their own country; public infrastructure destroyed, the insurgency has created more orphans in that zone of the country and dragged the economy into messy situation.

It saddens our hearts that while the government is cajoled by its desperate hunt for lasting peace in that zone, internally displaced persons littered all over the county in pitiable condition; exposed to hash element and live on handouts by good spirited Nigerians and organisations.

It is pathetic to note that banditry, which is the offspring of Boko Haram has become another national embarrassment to the Buhari-led administration. Just yesterday, a score of fearless bandits who attacked Nigerian Defence Academy killed two officers, injured one and abducted one Major while demanding N200 million ransom for his release.

This is a shame to all who are in charge of security management in this nation.

It is therefore important that the Federal Government ascertain that the repentant insurgents had truly repented. If rehabilitating and reintegrating the so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists would bring the elusive peace to the zone, we charged the Federal government to priotise the welfare, reintegration and rehabilitation of those who have been affected by the callous acts of these terrorists.

In spite this, the repentant insurgents should be made to face the consequences of their actions. This would serve as detriment to Nigerians that violence, terrorism and other acts that threaten the internal security and socioeconomic existence of the country would not be encouraged.

‘Repentant’ Boko Haram members

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