Children in IDPs’ camp left; Ex-Boko Haram members
The recent graduation of about 600 repentant Boko Haram terrorists and their planned reintegration into society by the Federal Government has again triggered the debate on the appropriateness or otherwise of that move by the government. In this piece, TUNDE AJAJA examines the implications of this for the Nigerian state
The warm reception the Nigerian government accorded repentant Boko Haram terrorists, who have over the years killed thousands of Nigerians, wreaked havoc on the Nigerian state and fought brazenly to shred the sovereignty of this country, is once again a matter of serious concern to many Nigerians.
This, perhaps, is one issue that won’t go away quickly, especially as their co-fighters are still in the North-East, especially Borno State, killing unarmed civilians and Nigerian soldiers alike in droves.
The carnage caused by this dreaded group is, to say the least, terrifying, a situation pushing many Nigerians, including security experts to ask questions about the controversial move by the government.
“It (the rehabilitation and planned reintegration) is a mistake and a very unfortunate circumstance because reality is being stood on its head,” said Ona Ekhomu, a seasoned security expert and analyst. “The perpetrators are getting a soft landing; they are living on government largesse, all in some unproven claims that they have been deradicalised, which we know is not true.
“When somebody commits murder, you keep them in jail for life or you even hang them, yet these people who are beheading others, bombing people and killing thousands are being given a soft landing. Part of the problem we have is that we don’t have our priorities right.”
Ekhomu, who is the chairman of Trans-World Security Systems Ltd., added, “I totally oppose it and think it’s very inhuman of whoever the policymaker is that came up with the idea that they should be rehabilitating those fighters.”
The terrorists, who on their part have shown no mercy on the Nigerian state and its citizens, have not only kidnapped and violated many, including young schoolgirls – turning them to sex slaves and suicide bombers – they have murdered many, beheaded some, executed some openly, burnt some to ashes and turned many children to orphans, wives to widows and men to widowers.
The victims of their virulent attacks have fled for cover in different parts of the country, many are constrained to live a day at a time in the camps for internally displaced persons while some do not even know if their loved ones are still alive or are merely missing owing to the attacks.
For example, on March 23, 2020, the insurgents, some of whom are now being welcomed back into the society they have desecrated, laid an ambush for some Nigerian soldiers and killed about 70 of them in one fell swoop. This is in addition to overrunning military bases and killing troops in several other attacks.
Of the torrent of attacks, the most recent was the attack on the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State and the multiple bombings that killed six persons and left about 27 persons injured few days ago. Since the insurgency started in 2009, about 100,000 Nigerians are said to have been killed – the number is still rising – while about 2.3 million persons have been displaced.