A few days ago, authorities of the Nigerian military said that some hundreds of Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered. Some of them were seen filing out, raising their hands in appeal to Nigerians for forgiveness.
Prior to the recent batch of the so called repentant terrorists, about 100 had earlier been announced as having repented and chosen to surrender to Nigerian troops in the theatre of the insurgency in the Northeast of the country.
Since the dawn of repentance by the terror elements began, not a few Nigerians have begun to worry and suspicious as to the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration which is inclined towards giving the so called repentants amnesty and reintegration into the larger society.
Some administration’s officials have even gone to the extent of comparing the repented terrorists with the militants of Niger Delta who were granted amnesty by the Yar’Adua administration and subsequent payment of stipends while undergoing some training either locally or overseas following the amnesty.
It is interesting however to note that a good number of Nigerians of various extractions have come to appreciate that the two scenarios are not the same. While the militants of Niger Delta were fighting against environmental degradation and exploitation of their natural resources in an oppressive manner by both the Federal Government and multinational oil companies, the Boko Haram fighter do not have any known and internationally accepted aim other than their mantra that “Western education is evil” and so resorted to killing anyone in sight.
It is therefore worrisome and largely unacceptable to see the Niger Delta militancy and the senseless killing of a disoriented religious sect as same. If that is the case, it automatically means that handling of the dramatis personae in the two groups would be different.
Now, Nigeria is seriously contending with an increase in the number of terror elements who are surrounding from the Boko Haram camp, in some cases with their wives and children. While Nigerian troops have done a good job by obeying the rules of engagement in a war situation by not summarily executing the terror elements but taking them into custody, there is the need for Nigerian authorities to be very cautious and careful in managing the next phase of this new development since there are some critical issues that must be diligently analysed before taking final decision on the fate of the so called repented ones if Afghanistan experience with the Taliban of last month is anything to go by.
The critical issues in the case of Nigeria’s Boko Haram elements now on the throes of appeal for forgiveness revolve around the manner of their surrender. Did they surrender to Nigerian troops out of genuine intentions to end the fratricidal attack on innocent people and possibly find a way of making restitution for their actions or they were forced to surrender as a result of the superior fighting power of the troops?
However, whatever may have prompted the surrendering, the fact remains that the elements have committed offence against nature by engaging in the destruction of human lives and property in the last twelve years against all appeals.
Agreed that some of the so called “repentant terrorists” were possibly conscripted into the group and not out of their volition, such cannot easily be used as a yardstick for the intended amnesty and reintegration.
To this effect, Securityreporters.com is in sync with the likes of Senator Ali Ndume who in his trending public statement in the social media after having a meeting with Buhari last week has asked that the Nigerian government should not grant blanket amnesty to the so called repented terrorists. Just like he posited, there is the need to do a diligent profiling of all those who have reportedly surrendered so as to separate the innocent from those with blood in their hands.
Ndume, like some other Nigerians would not want the Buhari administration to wrongly assume that all those who surrendered are true repentant and even if they are, the act of surrendering and repenting does not still exonerate them from culpability in the face of our law. Our criminal jurisprudence should be allowed to take its course and it is only by doing so, that the pains of all those who lost their beloved ones, property in the insurgency can partially be assuaged.
The country would be the worse for it, if known terrorists who over the years have slaughtered their fellow human beings like ram would now turn around to ask for forgiveness and amnesty cum reintegration in the same society that is still in pains of their satanic actions.
Securityreporters.com does not even believe that those who have surrendered did so out of genuine intentions but rather, did so as there was no alternative left for them. Some security analysts have attributed their action as inevitable given the fact that the ISWAP terrorists which reportedly parted ways with their Boko Haram colleagues were fighting to take absolute control of the situation which led to the death of Abubakar Shekau few months ago. Unable to face ISWAP supremacy, the Boko Haram elements who do not seem to have effective leadership after the demise of Shekau have no choice but to take an alternative route out of the battle field by surrendering to the Nigeria troops.
If this theory or analysis is anything to go by, it clearly means that those who are surrendering or have repented did not genuinely do so but forced by circumstances to take the position.
It has therefore become imperative that government should not be in a hurry to forgive any of those who have surrendered irrespective of how remorseful their outward appearance may seem. Like Ndume and others have advised, let those who have blood in their hands face the consequence of their action while an exit corridor should be created for the innocent after proper profiling must have been done.
This is not the time to be unnecessarily sentimental or disingenuously inclined towards ethnic or religious interpretation of
issues as if the terrorists over the years spared any tribe or religion in their murderous reign of terror.