Boko Haram: Between Buhari’s Amnesty And The Lives of Our Soldiers

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

If there is any time we need to come together as one people and speak with one voice against the escalating mindless acts of evil by the Boko Haram sect, it should be now. Whether anybody wants to hear this or not is immaterial as it has become very glaring that “Lafia” is still very far from “Dole” in the government’s effort at addressing the menace of the Boko Haram Islamic sect in parts of the country especially the Northeast.

It sounded funny when a member of the House of Representatives, Hon Gudaji Kazaure, recently asked to be allowed to enter the Sambisa forest with a team of soldiers and policemen to “finish the idiots.”

Hon Kazaure was honestly expressing how he and some of us now feel and pained by this boko haram menace. “Let the government give us Army and Police, we will go inside that bush and finish those idiots. I will lead it, even if it is tomorrow, I will lead”. Many Nigerians truly wish our leaders and top military brass could feel the same way as Hon Kazaure.

Is it not curious that the expressed disposition of some people in both the government and military seems to be contrary to the vexation of the spirit crudely expressed by Hon Kazaure making Nigerians believe that the Boko Haram problem in the Northeast may not be fully domiciled in Sambisa but partly in Abuja, Maiduguri amongst others.

How long can we afford to continue to sacrifice hundreds of our well-trained officers and men at the altar of political expediency? Expressed indifference to this deepening malaise by our leaders has only worsened the situation as it has continued to embolden the miscreants and their sponsors.

Those who live in denial should continue but whether they want to hear this or not, looking at the chronicle of events and the activities of this mindless Islamic sect only paints a very sad picture that unfortunately strikes a chord indicating that there is something terribly wrong with the government’s perceived fight against terrorism and the amnesty programme for what they called “repentant insurgents”.

How did we get to this point that the group which was supposed to be tactically defeated or rather grossly downgraded is now embolden to even take the fight to our soldiers rather than hide and attack defenceless civilian population in markets and places of worship (soft targets) as was their stock in trade?

So can we say the government’s amnesty granted the so called “repentant” book haram fighters is helping to address the menace of the insurgents or it’s worsening it?

Recall that On July 23, 2017, the Nigerian Army announced that it ‘de-radicalized’ 43 Boko Haram fighters. This was followed by the Army’s release of 244 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members to Borno state government on January 15, this year.

In what would have been a commendable step, President Buhari on March 23, 2018 announced amnesty offers to repentant Boko Haram fighters. This was followed by a presidential order for recruitment of ex-boko haram fighters into the Army and Police.

Following which the Nigerian Army of the Operation Lafia Dole released 760 suspected Boko Haram members to the Borno state government for re-orientation and re-integration.

From inception of this Presidential idea of granting amnesty to repentant boko haram fighters, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and JNI disagreed with the President and warned on the dangers of such initiative of which we are already seeing.The Christian Association also rejected the idea of recruiting ex -Boko Haram fighter into the Nigerian Army and Police saying such initiative may completely compromise our Army and Police.

Eeben Barlow, Chairman of the South African mercenary firm, Specialised Tasks, Training, Equipment and, Protection International (STTEP), had on his Facebook page claimed that President Mohammadu Buhari ignored intelligence made available to him on the potency of the Boko Haram Islamic sect prior to the Matele village attack that claimed the lives of hundreds of our well-trained soldiers including the commander.

How else can anyone describe the Army Chief’s statement to Nigerians and the international community that the Boko Haram fighters squard that wiped out an entire unit or even a battalion,” appeared as friends to the officers and men at the frontline in Metele,” if not to say it was as casual as it was outrightly irresponsible. Is this the kind of explanation any sane Commander-in-Chief would want to hear from his Chief of Army Staff? How could the Chief of Army staff attribute the bloody Boko Haram attack at Metele to deception?

The question is: “friends” in full military gears coming from where? Is there no inter-unit communications on troop movements among the various battalions/units at the frontlines in the war against boko haram insurgents? So how could a whole unit including their commander be so easily deceived by invading enemy force that came on a convoy of trucks with mounted machine guns as it could not have been an ambush?

Since some Nigerian soldiers on November 24, released a video clip on social media accusing the military high command and their commanders of corruption and lack of adequate arms to effectively fight the insurgents, the Army Chief has not said anything along that line. Nigerians expected him to thoroughly clear not only his name and that of the high command, but the allegations against field commanders also.

Can the government explain the rationale in releasing boko haram’s well trained fighters and bomb makers under a senseless amnesty programme just because they feign to have been “born again”? And the government not only releases them, it equally empowers them with good money under what the government calls re-integration. The question is: re-integration into which society, the same they are under oath to completely destroy?

Self deceit is the worst form of deceit! Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, the Boko Haram new swag could be traced to the conception and implementation of the federal government’s amnesty, de-radicalisation and, re-integration programme.

Why are you granting them amnesty, are they fighting for any course or protesting against any government policy or institutions? In the Niger Delta, the “boys” were protesting the glaring marginalisation and criminal neglect by the federal government against the region in terms of development infrastructure; environmental devastation of their region by the activities of the oil producing companies and the federal government’s refusal to intervene and force the oil companies to operate the way they do in their home counties and accept to be more environmentally responsible etc.

In this Boko Haram menace, what are they fighting for? Have they ever come out to tell the government what their grouses are so it can be discussed? If we don’t know what you are fighting for how can we negotiate with you to address your grievances?

So when some politicians in the North say some of the Boko Haram fighters are willing to repent and be re-integrated into the society, it amuses some of us because what are they repenting from- their faith, believe, or the covenant to destroy everybody and everything?

As many international news organizations have noted, more soldiers have been killed by Boko Haram under Buhari than at any time since the insurgency started in 2009. And under the same period under Buahri also, over $40 million has been doled out as ransom to the miscreants to free the Dapchi and some of the Chibok girls they kidnapped from their schools whether real or imaginary. Before you argue please ask Google and see for yourself if this is not true!

You see Nigerian government, with its right hand freeing the well trained fighters and bomb makers and with its left hand doling out millions of Dollars to the same insurgents. Is it not to make them more sophisticated and comfortable as we are today seeing in the groups new found confidence?

And as said by Farouk Kperogi in his comment, “Remember that on August 2, after Boko Haram murdered batch of scores of soldiers, Buhari pretended it never happened and instead chose to meet with senators from his party who had threatened to defect to PDP. He is more concerned about the success of the NextLevel of incompetence and fraud he will inflict on Nigerians than he is with the tragic death of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defence of the country.”

This is where we have found ourselves as a nation but how long can we continue like this?

(IFEANYI IZEZE: [email protected]; 234-8033043009)

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