Borno State governor Babagana Umara Zulum and some prominent leaders of the state have said the current massive surrender of Boko Haram fighters and their families leaves the state in very difficult situations.
Governor Zulum stated this weekend in Bama and Gwoza while addressing military officers and community leaders on the emerging situation.
He said the situation requires representatives of attacked communities to come together and critically review the pros and cons as well as implications of the surrender, in order to agree on a framework that is well thought-out.
Zulum travelled to Gwoza and Bama local government areas for humanitarian and developmental activities before addressing military commanders at brigades in Gwoza and Bama, and community leaders at the palaces of the emir of Gwoza and Shehu of Bama. The governor delivered the same message in both towns.
“We (in Borno) are in a very difficult situation over the ongoing surrender by insurgents. We have to critically look between two extreme conditions and decide our future. We have to choose between an endless war or to cautiously accept the surrendered terrorists which is really painful and difficult for anyone that has lost loved ones, difficult for all of us and even for the military whose colleagues have died and for volunteers,” he said.
Reacting to the massive surrendering of the Boko Haram terrorists, the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, said their surrender to the military was a welcome development to both the state government and victims of terrorism.
The Shehu added that the Safe Corridor programme of the army led to the de-radicalisation of repentant terrorists in Gombe State, noting that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for citizens and victims of the terrorists to accept the reintegration of the repentant insurgents into the destroyed communities.
El-Kanemi, who recalled that Boko Haram flattened Bama town and its College of Education in September 2014, said the fears of the people over the 12-year insurgency still remain and would continue, especially in communities where the surrendered terrorists would be reintegrated.
He lamented that 13 district heads and many ward heads were also killed in the insurgency in his emirate, comprising 16 local government areas of the state.
When asked if the people will forgive the repentant terrorists, the royal father said It is easy to forgive for the destruction of many lives and property, but difficult to forget the wanton loss of lives in the various communities of his chiefdom.
In his reaction, an elder statesman, Alhaji Ahmed Ashemi, said the kind of crimes the repentant terrorists have committed is so heinous that bringing them to their original place of abode where they perpetrated the crime would be counterproductive.
Alhaji Ashemi said this is because people who had known what they had done and see them come back with even palliative and so on may even think that there is profit in crime and some may even take law into their hands. He noted that if the terrorists that killed people’s fathers, mothers and even raped their sisters in their very eyes could comeback into the society now and start to mingle, it might create another social problem.
“But if you say, you are going to prosecute them, then you are also going to stop them from abandoning the crime to surrender no matter the difficulties in the bush. So, I think that the best thing the government should do is to take them far away from the areas they committed these crimes, teach them skills, rehabilitate them and relocate them to far away place for a long time, if not forever. “Some of these people cannot just come back and easily assimilate to the society they committed such heinous crimes. Their surrender is good, accepting their surrender and giving them amnesty is good because this will bring to an end all this nonsense. How to manage the development is very important. If it is not well managed, it may be counterproductive,” Ashemi said.