The current massive surrender of Boko Haram fighters and their families, according to Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum and some prominent leaders in the state, puts the state in a difficult situation.
Governor Zulum made the remarks while speaking to military officers and community leaders in Bama and Gwoza over the weekend.
According to him, the situation requires representatives from attacked communities to come together and critically evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of surrendering, as well as the implications of doing so, in order to agree on a well-thought-out framework.
Before speaking to military commanders at brigades in Gwoza and Bama, and community leaders at the palaces of the emir of Gwoza and Shehu of Bama, Zulum visited the local government areas of Gwoza and Bama for humanitarian and developmental activities. In both towns, the governor delivered the same message.
“We (in Borno) are in a very difficult situation as insurgents continue to surrender. We must choose between two extreme scenarios and make a critical decision about our future. We must choose between an endless war or a cautious acceptance of surrendered terrorists, which is extremely painful and difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one, difficult for all of us, including military personnel who have lost colleagues and volunteers,” he said.
The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, said the Boko Haram terrorists’ massive surrender to the military was a welcome development for both the state government and the victims of terrorism.
The army’s Safe Corridor program, according to Shehu, led to the de-radicalization of repentant terrorists in Gombe State, but citizens and victims of the terrorists would find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept the repentant insurgents’ reintegration into the destroyed communities.
El-Kanemi, who recalled how Boko Haram destroyed Bama town and the College of Education in September 2014, said people’s fears about the 12-year insurgency still exist and will continue, particularly in communities where surrendered terrorists will be reintegrated.
He bemoaned the fact that the insurgency had killed 13 district heads and a large number of ward heads in his emirate, which encompassed 16 local government areas in the state.
When asked if the people will forgive the repentant terrorists, the royal father said it is easy to forgive for the destruction of many lives and property, but difficult to forget the wanton deaths in his chiefdom’s various communities.
An elder statesman, Alhaji Ahmed Ashemi, responded by saying that the repentant terrorists’ crimes were so heinous that returning them to their original residence where they committed the crime would be counterproductive.
This, according to Alhaji Ashemi, is because people who knew what they had done and saw them return with even palliatives and other such things may believe that there is profit in crime, and some may even take the law into their own hands. He noted that if terrorists who murdered people’s fathers, mothers, and even raped their sisters in front of their eyes were to re-enter society and start mixing, it could create a new social problem.
“However, if you say you’ll prosecute them, you’ll also prevent them from abandoning the crime and surrendering, regardless of the difficulties they face in the bush. So, I believe the best thing the government can do is remove them from the areas where they committed these crimes, teach them skills, rehabilitate them, and relocate them to a faraway location for an extended period of time, if not forever. “Some of these people will not be able to easily reintegrate into the society in which they committed such heinous crimes. Accepting their surrender and granting them amnesty is a good thing because it will put an end to all of this nonsense. It is critical to understand how to manage development. It could be counterproductive if it is not well managed,” Ashemi said.