A former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshal Allamin Musa Daggash (rtd), has warned that no country releases a bulk of criminals in the name of amnesty to reintegrate them.
Daggash in an interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday queried why such a huge number of terrorists were pardoned while the insurgency war lingers.
He stated: “This type of thing was done somewhere in Guatemala for how many years now, they didn’t pardon a bulk like that. You pardon only a few, a few clearly innocent cases. Two here, one from another country and two from there like that, they never go in hundreds or fifties so that is where the mistake has been made.
“I’m saying if such number was pardoned within a year and still we are not winning, it is flipping here and there as I was telling you about the Damaturu issue.
“We have been out of power for almost three months caused by the same insurgents and of course, on the other hand in Sokoto, Zamfara and others they say bandits but as far as I’m concerned they are all the same, terrorists. It is difficult to differentiate, we haven’t won so who authorised it and who was monitoring them if they had let these 606 terrorists go? Who was authorising behaviour, activities here and there? No one does that so we are in trouble. If we are not careful, they will metamorphose into another kind of group.”
Daggash advised the government to be very careful with this type of engagement as it is more than the soldiers’ business.
He urged journalists to follow up to know exactly what happened since over 600 repentant terrorists were reintegrated into the society without proper mechanism to monitor their activities.
While querying the basis for the decision, he said, “There must be a basis because if there is no surety, what was the reason? I heard a little about it that they were thinking about it and so on but as to the number I never had that knowledge.
“Six hundred people is not a joke. You are talking about almost a brigade scattered all over the country and most of them are purely northerners. There are no southerners among Boko Haram, so mostly it is the North North. So, if there are the ones there causing this kind of problems, you people should have picked it up where the thing went bad, where it went raw.”
Also, senior lawyers in the country who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday described the decision of the federal government to grant repentant terrorists amnesty and re-integrate them into the system as a wrong move.
A senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ahamba, said he had never been in support of their re-integration into the society.
According to him, they should have been prosecuted rather than being granted amnesty and re-integrated into the system.
The learned silk said, ”I have never believed in granting amnesty to repentant terrorists and re-integrating them in the first place.
”They should have been prosecuted and sentenced to prison. I won’t be surprised if Governor Zulum is speaking the truth because he also gets security reports as the chief executive of the state.”
Also, a professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Awa Kalu, agreed with Chief Ahamba on the need to prosecute the terrorists.
Chief Kalu, a former commissioner for justice in Abia State, said since they had aligned with those who have taken up arms against the state for the second time, they should be prosecuted.
”Let us assume that it was right to have granted them amnesty and re-integrate them into the system, now that they have gone back, the government should do what should have been done to them initially”, he said.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, said the country needs external help in handling the issue of Boko Haram.
According to him, the issue of Boko Haram needs careful and sophisticated handling. He said the huge challenge of insecurity may persist if the country fails to seek external help.
He said if not quickly dealt with, it may consume Nigeria as a nation.
Raji said, ”I think we are in urgent need of external help, otherwise the huge challenge will remain with us with its debilitating consequences for a long time.
”It may ultimately consume the nation. Prosecuting them is like treating the effect without addressing the cause.
”Having regard to the nature of our judicial system and the likely minimal impact of imprisonment on the mindset of the sect members, I doubt if prosecution offers a robust panacea to the issue at hand.
”We need genuine external help without further delay. May God guide our leaders.”