By Gbenga Akingbule
Majority of the stakeholders and the Borno State Government have on Sunday recommended the need to forgive and reintegrate the surrendered Boko Haram terrorists at a just concluded enlarge security stakeholders meeting in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Although, some stakeholders opined that caution must not be thrown to the wind, warning that the reintegration of the surrendered terrorists may spell doom for the state and Nigeria in the future.
The total number of surrendered Boko fighters according to the Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum is put at 3,900. While 3000 surrendered in Borno State, 900 is said to have denounced their old path in Republic of Cameroon .
Stakeholders from various segments on the society in Borno State which include security agencies, Politicians, Religious bodies, Traditional rulers, Labour Unions Women group, NBA , NUJ and the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency harp on the need for forgiveness and reintegration as part of measures to end the 12- year old Boko Haram insurgency.
The stakeholders who converged at the Multipurpose Hall of the Borno State Government House took turns to call on the Federal Government and security agencies to determine the level of involvement of the Boko Haram fighters before reintegrating them into the society.
The Theather Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Major General Christopher Musa said though the Military is open to Kinetic and non Kinetic means of prosecuting the Boko Haram insurgency, assured that the Military will continue with its primary responsibility of rooting out the Boko Haram terrorists from every nooks of crannies of the North East.
General Musa stated that the Military is backing the ongoing peace efforts nothing that ” if we ge it right here , we all know that the North Central , North East and other parts of the country will know peace . As members of the Armed forces, we have total support of what is going on .
” Whether or not ( the peace process) is accepted , as members of the armed forces, we will continue to do our job because that’s why we’re being paid. We will continue to ensure there’s peace for everybody. ” General Musa said .
The Borno Elders Forum who was represented at the meetings is worried that weapons and bombs used by the Boko Haram fighters to invade communities and kill residents are not yet surrendered by the terrorists . The forum stated that very few suspected arms amunation are being retrieved.
” All Arms and Ammunition possess by surrendering Insurgents be retrieved , possible landmines be detonated, and dungeons or underground bunkers be fished out and destroyed.
“So far , we have seen hundreds of surrendered Boko Haram, but we saw very little of the suspected arms and ammunition they used against our forces and people ” A representative of the Borno Elders Forum, Alh. Bulama Mali Gubio said . Adding that ” Possible influx of concealed arms should be checked ” .
District head of Khadamari, Alh. Baba Abba Hassan- a traditional leader of a community where over 40 farmers were killed within his domain last year stated that government must go to the grassroots and interact with the victims of Boko Haram insurgency.
Hassan said the integration of repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the community may bring about another crises between the victims and surrendered boko Haram fighters.
” One of my subjects whose son was slain in his presence and his daughter abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in the last 8 years. He said , If that insurgent claim to have no repented and he’s his brought back to my community; you think I will not react?” The Traditional ruler said .
However, one of the victims who lost some of his relatives to the Boko Haram terrorists attacks spoke at the confab said he has since forgiven the insurgents and that he’s even ready to give out house to accomodate the surrenderd terrorists.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum has promised to take up peace building initiative with President Muhammadu Buhari and Service Chiefs with a view to profiling the surrender terrorists.
” The Communique shall be discussed in our Tuesday Security Council Meeting. I shall take up the matter immediately with Mr President and the Service Chiefs with a view to establishing a sustainable and emperical framework that will resolve this issues without compromising the state and national interest .
Governor Zulum also revealed that “quite a number ” of the repentant Boko Haram terrorists were ” forcefully conscripted into the Boko Haram group
” So far, 200 of them ( surrendered Boko Haram Terrorists) and their wives between 600 and 700 are farmers, they were forcefully conscripted; they were first held as hostages and do use to farm for the insurgents and the insurgents buys proceeds of their farms from them . If a bag of beans costs N 30, 000 in Maiduguri, then the insurgents will buy from the farmers at N 15 ,000.
“The insurgents themselves have confessed that these people are farmers and their job is just to farm and sell the farm produce to them (insurgents).
” The situation is very pathetic , we have many children below the age of 12 ; they know nothing and therefore, the government of Borno State will work with security agencies with a view to profiling the children, women and farmers that have not done anything shall be considered and be released after due process must have been observed. Others shall be handed according to the extant rules and regulations as enshrined in the Nigeria Law as well as according to the international norms ” Prof Zulum said .
Below Is the Communique Issued at the end of the meeting
1. The stakeholders appreciated the untiring efforts and support of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria towards ending Boko Haram insurgency and other criminalities in Borno State and the country at large.
2. The stakeholders commended the zeal and determination of His Excellency, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, FNSE, mni, Executive Governor of Borno State towards restoration of lasting peace in the State. The meeting further noted the unparalleled support rendered to the IDPs and vulnerable by His Excellency, the Executive Governor.
3. The stakeholders welcomed the effort of the Federal and State Governments in the provision of state-of-the-art equipment and other logistics to the security operatives that led to the renewed vigour in the fight against insurgents which resulted in the recent surrender.
4. The meeting urged the Federal and State Governments to handle the issues of repentant Boko Haram insurgents with utmost care and within the instrumentality of the law.
5. The meeting stressed the need for proper profiling of repentant Boko Haram insurgents to avoid hasty release of hardened elements to larger society.
6. The meeting welcomed the recent massive surrender by the Boko Haram insurgents and urged those still in the bush to follow suit.
7. The meeting called for all firearms and offensive weapons used by the repentant insurgents to be retrieved from them.
8. The meeting strongly advocated for the strengthening of the deradicalisation mechanism of Operation Safe Corridor so as to involve parents of the surrendered Boko Haram members, Ulamas, traditional/community leaders and the media.
9. The meeting urged citizens to key into the educational opportunities created by the state government, especially by enrolling their children and wards to schools as a counter measure for indoctrination.
10. The stakeholders reiterated the need for further support to all victims of insurgency especially women and children.
11. The meeting called on the Federal Government to establish a world class deradicalisation/rehabilitation centre in Borno State being the epicentre of insurgency.
12. The meeting called for a true reconciliation amongst the affected people.
13. The meeting appreciates the support of the Federal Government to the State, but solicited for more funding from the Federal Government to the State especially in areas of reconstruction, resettlement, reintegration, education and health as the meager resources at the disposal of the state is not sufficient in view of the magnitude of cost involved.
14. The meeting urged the military to sustain the ongoing offensive on the activities of ISWAP.
15. The meeting resolved to have a periodic briefing on the activities of the surrendered Boko Haram terrorists with a view to creating awareness amongst the public.
16. The meeting further resolved that the North East Development Commission (NEDC) as a matter of priority be involved in all aspects of the rehabilitation and integration of surrendered Boko Haram into mainstream society.