Not many Nigerians were amused when the military authorities said they would hand over 613 rehabilitated “low-risk repentant” terrorists to their state governments.
The 613 rehabilitated terrorists were said to be currently undergoing deradicalisation and rehabilitation handled by Operation Safe Corridor.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, the military should thread carefully with this move and our reasons are not far-fetched.
Expectedly, the proposal has generated anger and condemnation among Nigerians. While some argue that these individuals deserve a second chance and should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, others argue that they are dangerous criminals who should not be trusted so much.
Some argue that it is important to remember that these individuals have likely been through traumatic experiences and may have been coerced into joining Boko Haram in the first place. Rehabilitation programmes have been shown to be effective in helping individuals leave violent extremist groups and reintegrate into society. However, it is also important to ensure that proper security measures are in place to protect the public from any potential harm.
Besides, many Nigerians share the view that most terrorists never truly repent and often times go back to their former ways .
We recall that Senator Ali Ndume in 2020 disclosed that a repentant Boko Haram member, who was recently integrated into the community, killed his father, stole his wealth and disappeared. The lawmaker alleged that many of the ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members had since gone back to their former den.
We also recall that in July 2022, some repentant Boko Haram members, despite renouncing their membership of the terror group, were accused of having contact with their former colleagues, supplying them intelligence.
The former terrorists were among the 800 persons who were recently reintegrated into the Bama community in Borno State and were resettled at the Government Girls’ Secondary School Bama.
It is instructive to note that since Boko Haram started their orgy of violence and killings in 2009, the North East in particular and Nigeria in general have not known peace. According to reports, in the last 10 years since the group chose the path of bloodbath, over 100,000 Nigerians have been killed while over 2.5 million have been displaced .
Despite the ongoing efforts of the Nigerian government and military to combat the group, it continues to pose a significant threat to the country’s stability and security.
This newspaper had recently condemned the release of the repentant members of the insurgent group in a war that is still ongoing and we still maintain our stand .
In our view, the so-called repentance can never be genuine and so should not be taken seriously to the extent of opening our sociopolitical and economic space to them unrestricted even in the midst of the war of attrition they created.
It is sad to note that the attacks by the terrorists and bandits have increased in recent weeks as the nation is battling with the twin problems of insurgency and banditry .It is also incontestable that some Boko Haram members have metamorphosed into bandits who have been terrorising hapless Nigerians in the North West and North Central parts of the country .
We have previously argued against amnesty for bandits and terrorists. The federal government’s plan to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members had never worked and also the amnesty for bandits in some north western states has turned out to be a ruse as the bandits have quickly resumed their orgy of killing and violence in those states.
Needless to say, releasing terrorists back into society without proper rehabilitation and monitoring is a recipe for disaster. They could return to their old ways, or even recruit other young people to join the group.
Furthermore, it undermines the justice system as it seems like they can do anything and get away with it without facing the consequences of their actions.
In order to effectively combat Boko Haram and protect the Nigerian people, the government must take a hardline approach and hold accountable those who have committed crimes and atrocities. This includes providing proper rehabilitation and monitoring for repentant members of the group, instead of releasing them into society without proper oversight or accountability.
No doubt, the release of repentant Boko Haram members to states in Nigeria is a dangerous and irresponsible move that undermines the efforts to neutralise the group’s threat and put the safety and security of the Nigerian people at risk. The government must take a more responsible approach to dealing with the group and its members, and hold them accountable for their actions.