On Mass Surrender of Boko Haram Fighters By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi
It has been over a decade since the self-acclaimed jihadists, Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) took up arms, and have been unleashing terror and violence against the Nigerian State.
Their nefarious activities have culminated into losing more than 38,000 lives since 2009–when the insurgency begun.
In another vein, over two million Nigerians are now living as refugees in the neighboring countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad, while several others have been displaced and forced to settle in various IDP camps across the North-East.
That BHTs are now laying down their arms and embracing amnesty is cheering.
However, the development has continued to generate mixed reactions. In fact, the genuineness of the intentions of the now-repentant terrorists is been questioned, in some quarters.
The Nigerian army, which has been leading the counter-insurgency operation, believes the terrorists turn-around signifies success in the fight against insurgency.
To the army, the massive surrendering may be a signal towards ending their long fierce battle with the terrorists.
National Security Adviser, NSA, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), attributed the terrorists’ surrendering as a consequence of the relentless efforts of the armed forces, intelligence and security agencies.
It is apt to aver that the incessant onslaught by military troops have compelled some of the recalcitrant terrorists flee their battle grounds.
Recall that, in May 2021, the leader of BHTs, Abubakar Shekau blew himself by detonating a suicide bomb vest when he was boxed to the corner by the ISWAP fighters who wanted him to surrender. Since Shekau’s demise, the BHTs has been losing battles due to Nigerian military onslaught as well as offensiveness from the ISWAP, led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawy, the son of the late founder of Boko Haram Mohammed Yusuf.
The inability of the Boko Haram fighters to resist these pressures has evidently contributed to disarray in their camps. This led to the recent mass outflux of conscripted followers and those who are tired of fighting to surrender themselves to Nigerian military. Meanwhile, some of them agreed to join ISWAP and continued to wield arms against the state.
Nonetheless, the most vital point to note here is that on how Government is planning to accept these remorseful terrorists and integrate them back into the society that they have so much contributed in destabilizing of its spirit and architecture over the years.
What will be the feelings and fate of the victims of this terror who were forcibly evicted out of their homes to take shelter at IDPs camps and turned to mere beggars? How will these victims react when they learn that they will now continue co-habiting with the same perpetrators that made life unbearable for them?
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State noted with concern that this ongoing surrender had presented the state with extremely difficult security dimensions which requires serious examination of the wider implications. According to him, if not properly handled by stakeholders, the situation may leads to a civil rebellion.
According to the rule of engagement, a surrendered combatant cannot be killed, however, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) insisted that these so-called repented should face trials for the menace they perpetrated against humanity over the years. Some people even believed that these remorseful terrorists could be deceptive, thus, government should be meticulous on the way of handling this issue of mass surrender.
Based on my opinion and the truth to be told, this is a perfect opportunity for Nigeria to end this lingering battle. The government has been fighting these insurgents for over 12 years without the much anticipated success while lives and properties are continuously being destroyed.
These repentant terrorists must not be turned away, as they may be left with no other alternative than to join forces with ISWAP who will gladly embrace them into their camps to continue terrorizing the state.
Therefore, Government should critically engage the combine efforts of the traditional rulers, community stakeholders, and the military in the process of de-radicalization and reintegration of these remorseful terrorists. Meanwhile, government should also find a way of pacifying the victims of this terrorism act.
However, the Nigerian military should not be euphoric over this recent success, but rather sustain the ongoing offensive on the activities of ISWAP fighters and the strong headed remnant of BHTs who chose to continue fighting against the state. Both kinetic and non-kinetic tactics should be deployed toward restoring peace in North-East region and the Nigeria at large.
I will finally conclude this piece by emphasizing on the recent resolution reached by Borno Stakeholders to accept the repentant terrorists into the society but on some certain conditions. This include; accurate profiling of the remorseful insurgents to avoid hasty release of hardening elements to the larger society.
While calling for a periodic briefing on the activities of the surrendered BHTs as a means of keeping the public abreast of developments, the stakeholders also insisted that “all firearms and offensive weapons used by the insurgents be retrieved from them.”
Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi is with the Emergency Digest
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