What Granting Amnesty To Boko Haram Actually Means

Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau
Part of the reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari was voted into power in 2015 was the surging strength of the Boko Haram sect which was specifically occupying 14 Local Government Areas in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. The regular guerrilla attacks by their foot soldiers gradually dented the popularity of the ex President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan till what was left only qualified him for an exit from the Aso Rock Villa.

The kidnap of the 276 Chibok school girls in 2014 was a knock-out punch to the second term bid of the erstwhile leader. As the numbers of Internally Displaced People in the North-east swelled into millions with several other women and girls constantly kidnapped amidst invasion of military barracks, police stations and destruction of schools with most terrorist attacks going unreported by the media, fear gripped the people and they began to crave for a messiah. But is there really a messiah here? Not even a fore-runner like the Biblical John The Baptist is in sight.

President Buhari's military background especially with his rise to the post of a Major General in the Nigerian Army and his ironhand rulership as Head of State within 1983-1985 gave the people the phantom feeling that he could probably lead the Nigerian troops from the front just as we used to have it during the medieval period where kings commandeered military operations from the forefront.

Since the All Progressives Congress, APC took over power, what we have seen in the last three years is the constant politicization of the war against terrorism and a highly publicized victory laced with calculated propaganda. This doesn't mean the Buhari administration hasn't made progress against Boko Haram but the more the government sells the false narrative that Boko Haram has been 'technically' defeated, the more the group paints the roads in the north-east with fresh human blood. In factual terms, a 25th of January, 2018 report by BBC Monitoring shows that at least 967 people were reportedly killed by Boko Haram attacks in 2017, an increase on the previous year when 910 deaths were reported.

News of Boko Haram attacks have become so normal that Nigerians have decided to live with it just like the challenge of poor economic growth, corruption, inadequate infrastructural facilities, and unemployment in the country.

With the Boko Haram sect brazenly kidnapping and returning the Dapchi school girls in broad daylight like scenes taken from a Nollywood movie coupled with the intensification of ground assaults and suicide bombings; the government appears to be running out of lifelines.

The government is no doubt overwhelmed by the 9-year battle which has no end in sight. There seems to be no other military or ideological option to curb the menace of the Boko Haram sect as it has intelligently made the Federal Government its greatest financier by kidnapping for ransoms whenever they are broke or probably need to secure the release of some of their arrested top commanders for operational purposes.

Today, President Buhari who seems to have exhausted his arsenal is apparently begging members of the Boko Haram sect with amnesty. The mind-boggling part of the offer is that Boko Haram alleged to be decimated appears uninterested in a truce. The Federal Government has been caught negotiating from the weak side which is highly detrimental to our existence and recognition as a country.

The call for amnesty for Boko Haram members by the current administration amounts to the following;

(1) The gross failure of the entire security apparatus in Nigeria:

One could safely conclude that Boko Haram has overstretched the combination of the Nigeria Police Force, Directorate of State Security, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Civilian Joint Taskforce, National Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Air Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy (possibly) and other constituted bodies that could thwart the operations of the sect. Even the massive funding of these bodies by the government has refused to give them the needed edge against the amateur fighters of the Boko Haram group.

(2) Poor intelligence gathering:

One of the reasons why the Boko Haram fight has lasted this long is the failure of the government to gather credible intelligence about the group and judiciously work on it. Its almost a decade now and the financiers of the sect are still elusive. The government has also struggled to plug their source of finance which is the backbone of their operations. How do they smuggle in weapons to the country unnoticed?
Security operatives have now been reduced to mere spectators following the media utterances of private citizens like Ahmad Salkida, Aisha Wakil (Mama Boko Haram), the spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Ango Abdullahi to understand Boko Haram.

(3) Complicity on the part of the government:

The Boko Haram war has become the cash cow of every administration. Former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki allegedly siphoned $2.1 billion arms deal funds and President Buhari is set to scoop $1 billion to buy military equipment to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency although many believe the controversial withdrawal from the Excess Crude Account is to prosecute the 2019 presidential election. Since the battle has become a conduit pipe for diverting public funds, every administration would never want to end it. The late General Sani Abacha further confirmed it that "if insurgency lasts for more than 24 hours, the government has a hand in it".

(4) Rewarding an unrepentant prodigal son with gold:

The war against terrorism has been frustrating as it is not a conventional war and the Boko Haram sect appears uninterested in holding territories any longer as its perceived new strategy. It only relies on lethal surprise attacks for now and its working. This present administration is hastily interested in scoring cheap political points at the expense of morality especially as the next election approaches. The group doesn't deserve amnesty like the Niger Delta militants were given by the late President Musa Umaru Yar'Adua in 2009. They don't have a valid cause compared to the Niger Deltans who have been sidelined and marginalized of their own birthright. The establishment of an Islamic caliphate through means of conquest is a tall dream in this modern world.

(5) Exposure of the detrimental gap in technological advancement in Nigeria:

The manner in which the Boko Haram sect kidnapped 110 Dapchi girls and also returned them reeks of how poor our security surveillance system is. There was no drone to capture their movements or helicopters to give them a hot chase as well as a remote sensor to tap into their communication network as we have seen in developed countries. In a place like Russia or the U.S, someone could have planted a transponder on the body or vehicle of the terrorists while they carelessly shook hands with residents of the Dapchi town during the drop-off. An operation like that would have given us the coordinates of their base for appropriate aerial bombardment and other military operations.

(6) Portraying the Nigerian government as weak before the international community:

With the Federal Government proposing amnesty which the supposed decimated Boko Haram sect doesn't find attractive, it shows who is truthfully winning the war although the terrorists overtime have nothing to lose. The deployment of all the powerful machinery of state against the sect have failed thereby prompting the option of negotiation and concessions with the ambassadors of wanton and senseless killings. Our sovereignty has been further undermined and mortgaged as initially done by the news of 'back-channel' negotiations and alleged ransom payment to the terrorists for hostage release.

(7) Wastage of scarce economic resources:

The Federal Government is already expending over N541 billion in settling the amnesty deal signed with Niger Delta militants over the years. There is a possibility that the Boko Haram members might be incorporated into a similar financial scheme which will further weigh down the national budget. I am sure it was on this note that an Environmental Rights Activist and convener of Niger Delta Self-Determination Movement, NDSDM, Ann Kio-Briggs said revenue generated from the oil-rich region shouldn't be used to resettle terrorists as it is imminent.

(8) Emboldening of other fresh militias:

An offence that goes unanswered is bound to multiply. Till date, we have several militant groups operating in the Niger Delta region craving for the attention of the Federal Government. Embracing the Boko Haram and integrating a misfit like Abubakar Shekau into the society will inspire other budding armed groups already threatening the faltering security system of Nigeria to fully manifest. There is no guarantee that some of the Boko Haram fighters who have been exposed to the short term benefits of crime will not melt into other splinter cells to commit further crimes as they are already accustomed to.

(9) Indication of President Buhari's soft spot for the insurgents:

Buhari amnesty proposal appears preconceived and has always been a viable option on his agenda list even before he became President in 2015. It would be recalled that in 2013, President Buhari lamented on the declaration of State of Emergency in Boko Haram's worst-hit states - Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States under the Jonathan administration. He likened the Boko Haram insurgency to the Niger Delta militancy in the south faulting the military approach of the government to the Boko Haram insurgency. ( See 'Buhari faults clampdown on Boko Haram members' - The Nation, June 2, 2013 report).

(10) Furtherance of disunity among ethnic groups:

Granting amnesty to Boko Haram which has killed over 20,000 Nigerians, displaced over 2 million people, destroyed infrastructural facilities worth billions of naira amidst other vast damages will further fan the embers of disunity in Nigeria considering Buhari's ill-treatment of unarmed secessionist group - Indigenous People of Biafra in the South-east. Some members of the group were maimed, incarcerated and others killed as brute force was applied to cripple their activities. Their ringleader, Nnamdi Kanu is missing till date. The moderately peaceful group has been proscribed after being tagged a terrorist cell despite not being in the class of Boko Haram as the international community acknowledged. This indication of favouritism will further deteriorate the level of disunity in Nigeria.

The amnesty proposal is another wild goose chase and dance of shame by the government as the top commanders of Boko Haram like Abubakar Shekau, Shuaibu Moni and Abu Musab Al-Barnawi are fully aware that they can never be reintegrated into the society again due to the level of bloodshed and destruction they have orchestrated in the north-east.

Their entire family and lineage will forever be stigmatized worse than the Boko Haram kids and their wives and history will never be fair to them. They will rather choose to die in their chosen cause as martyrs with their names written in gold in their world of terrorism.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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