Recently about 1,400 repentant “Boko Haram” suspects, who were previously in detention, were all released and the plan now is to resettle them into the society.
As a follow up to the release of the suspects, a bill for the establishment of an agency for Boko Haram repentant was sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, the immediate past Governor of Yobe State. This action was trailed with reactions from different groups such as the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF). Particularly, the Afenifere condemned and stated that the move is “impunity taken too far”.
The position of those opposing the move by both the military and the senator that is sponsoring the bill is: how can amnesty be accorded to criminals who killed, maimed, raped and destroyed innocent people’s lives and property when Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province war is still ongoing?
According to an elder statesman, an Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, “it is an insult to Nigerians and scandalous to the National Assembly.
How can anybody think of feeding criminals and enemies of the state? This is impunity taken too far”. The President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima said the proposal is stupid. According to him, “When the soldiers that are risking their lives to contain the insurgents are crying over poor welfare package the Senate is debating how to grant amnesty to the suspects… Nigerians must be ready to interrogate the intention of the person that sponsored such a bill.”
In a country where the victims of the terrorists are still suffering at the various Internally Displaced camps without adequate provision of their immediate needs, where many school girls kidnapped and abducted by the insurgents are still missing, where many lives of innocent Nigerians have been snuffed out, where many military personnel have been killed without any solution in sight, it will be ungodly to say that an amnesty should be given to the terrorists.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen’s carnage, kidnapping and police brutality have become a day light monster. However, for any person to recommend the release or amnesty for the repentant Boko Haram suspects at this time in Nigeria is ridiculous. What are the assurances that those 1,400 repentant Boko Haram suspects released are not going to be security risk to Nigeria?
Although researchers at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge said “Long-term imprisonment changes people to the core”, the case in Nigeria is different because we have seen on many occasions where imprisoned criminals after serving their jail terms often time returned back to their criminal activities.
Unlike in other countries where prisons are serving as reformation centres for transformation of criminals to become responsible and good citizens, in Nigeria criminals after serving their jail terms become hardened. Boko Haram and their likes deserve no sympathy because their activities are evil, wicked, barbaric and unacceptable in our society.
––Agunloye Adewunmi Bashiru, email@example.com