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Negotiating with armed men

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NIGERIA has been passing through many security challenges since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgents first struck in the northeastern part of Nigeria. And since that time till now the fundamentalists have killed at least 20,000 people, displaced many more leading to exodus of people from their communities, destroyed many properties including academic institutions. The insurgents ceaselessly terrorise the region with their nefarious activities with an aim of carving out a caliphate to be ruled with the Sharia.

The need to check the excesses and stop the wanton killings of thousands of people have been the top agenda of the federal government which has spent billions of naira to find a lasting solution to the insecurity challenge, but little can be recorded as the achievement so far in the war against terrorists that is entering a decade old now.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its then presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari emerged victorious in the 2015 general elections with a promise to crush the insurgents and secure the release of the abducted Chibok girls. Though they didn’t provide details on how to accomplish those feats, Nigerians, desperate for change, believed the political promise

While the terrorists continued to kill using recruited suicide bombers, the government began to negotiate with the Islamists in order to release the Chibok girls kidnapped during the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration early 2014. Their release, of course, was expected to be a meaningful achievement of the current administration. Military efforts were put in place to bring back the kidnapped girls who were writing WASSCE when they were perfectly captured and ferried away. Perceiving, perhaps, that the military option was not enough to secure their release, the federal government chose the alternative that involved diplomacy, though with terrorists. There was a breakthrough, however, in October, 2016 when twenty-one of the remaining girls were released.

And 82 more were freed on May 6 last year. But their freedom didn’t come that cheaply. One cannot expect the mischievous elements to be that lenient. A deal was made before their release, and according to the United States Washington Post, the government parted with a whooping sum of €3m and an agreement to free some Boko Haram members held in Nigerian prisons. The deal was said to involve Ahmad Salkida, a journalist known to have links with the sect, and Zannah Mustapha, a lawyer. Not surprisingly, though, in January, 2018 the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Army handed over 244 “repentant” Boko Haram insurgents released from detention to the Borno State Government. According to The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, they were released  to commemorate the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, saying, “The detainees have been de-radicalised for reintegration into the society. We are handing over the detainees to Borno Government for administration.” It would have been plausible if the army had told us how they repented.

Satisfied with the first negotiation and its results, the insurgents carried out another operation, this time around in Dapchi, Yobe State. They went in unchallenged to abduct another set of innocent school girls numbering more than one hundred. Many doubted the more recent abduction calling it a script.

We believe that granting amnesty to Boko Haram would be an open violation of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international law and would entail a virtual denial of justice for victims.”

  • Timothy Faboade,

Gbongan, Osun State

The post Negotiating with armed men appeared first on Tribune.

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