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.
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 enclave camps.
Shekau was boxed to the corner by ISWAP fighters in May, which forced him to commit suicide. Since then Boko Haram fighters have been losing momentum as a result of military onslaught.
The inability of Boko Haram fighters to resist troops’ aggressive power, evidently, have also contributed to causing disarray in the camps–leaving many conscripted fighters to surrender themselves to Nigerian military.
How Government is planning to accept these remorseful terrorists and integrate them into the society they have badly destabilized is the question begging for answer.
What will be the fate of the victims of this terror, who were forcibly evicted from their homes to take shelter at IDP camps and turned to mere beggars? How will these victims react when they learn that they will now co-habit with criminals that have made life hell for them?
Already, Governor Babagana Zulum has noted with concern that the ongoing surrender presented the state with an extremely difficult security dilemma requiring a serious examination of the wider implications.
According to him, if not properly handled by stakeholders, the situation may leads to a civil rebellion.
Not a few people believe that these ‘remorseful’ terrorists are deceptive, thus government should be meticulous on the way it handles their issue.
Personally, I thinks the repentant terrorists deserve ‘another chance’. Otherwise, will not hesitate to rejoin forces with their ISWAP colleague, who will gladly welcome them into their fold.
Government should critically engage traditional rulers, community stakeholders, and the military in the process of de-radicalization and reintegration of these remorseful terrorists. It should also find a way to pacify victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.
On their part, the Nigerian military should sustain its offensive on the ISWAP fighters and strong-headed remnants of BHTs. It is pertinent that both kinetic and non-kinetic tactics should be deployed toward restoring peace in North-East region and the Nigeria at large.
While calling for a periodic briefing on the activities of the surrendered BHTs as a means of keeping the public abreast of developments, stakeholders must insist that “all firearms and offensive weapons used by the insurgents be retrieved from them.”
Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi writes from Madobi, Kano State