By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze
The viral photos of surrendered Boko Haram commanders with placards of varying inscriptions denouncing their evil ways and sins they committed against the nation and humanity trended online penultimate week. The terrorists numbering about a hundred whose stock in trade for over a decade has been killing, maiming, raping, stealing, destroying and pillaging the country were seen with their families begging Nigerians for forgiveness. According to a statement by Brigadier Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, Army Spokesperson, shared alongside photos of the Boko Haram commanders; “Musa Adamu, a chief bomb expert for the insurgents and his deputy Usman Adamu were among those who surrendered along with their families and followers to the troops of operation Hadin Kai in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
This followed recent escalation of offensive operations coupled with non-kinetic efforts by troops of Operation Hadin Kai which yielded massive surrendering of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province Terrorists in the North East. The surrendered terrorists and their families totalling 335 fighters, 746 adult women and children included one of the abducted Chibok girls.” The Acting General Officer Commanding, 7 Division, Abdulwahab Eyitayo, who received them at Headquarters 21 Special Armoured Brigade, Bama reportedly advised the repentant fighters to convince their former colleagues to stop participating in terrorism, embrace peace and rehabilitation.”
The plea for forgiveness for the heinous crimes they committed against men, women, children and the entire nation caught the attention of many. People from all walks of life have lent their voices to the claimed new way of life and behaviour of the terrorist group. Many are skeptical about the sincerity of their confessed repentance while others vowed never to forgive their atrocities. It is meaningless to ask for ‘forgiveness’ through a mere inscription on a piece of paper. Is it that so easy to forgive someone who murdered another’s entire family, destroyed communities and plundered resources with fun-fare? It may be easy to forgive but definitely hard to forget.
Time and time again some bandits who hitherto claimed to have repented happily returned back to their old evil ways after hoodwinking the government and the general public. The cases of bandits who surrendered their arms to Zamfara state government but later reneged on the agreement reached and returned to the trenches after collecting huge sums of money and vehicles are classical examples of the dubious nature of these people. You trust them to your peril. These people are satanic and completely barbaric. Their utter disregard for the sanctity of human lives is unnerving. The damage caused by their unbridled thirst for bloodshed bears eloquent testimony against their ruthlessness.
The view of Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga, a media consultant on the issue captures the mood of most Nigerians. He wrote: “Imagine the audacity of the surrendered terrorists that killed about 50,000 people since 2009 begging Nigerians for forgiveness. Just think of the agony of the innocent school girl that they kidnapped, raped and married at gun point or under duress. Carrying the baby of a mass murderer in one’s womb is a humiliating trauma for any girl. Think of hundreds of widows who lost their bread winners because of the Boko Haram terrorism.
What about the hundreds of soldiers and other security forces that were brutally killed by the terrorists? What about hundreds of other victims that were maimed for life because of terrorism violence or bomb attacks? The thought of letting terrorists get away with crimes against humanity is sickening! It means human life is valueless. It is an insult to the memories of the victims and sensibilities of their families.
These terrorists are surrendering because they are tired of fighting. It was obvious from the start that they would ultimately lose enthusiasm on account of fatigue. It was just a matter of time. They did not surrender because of respect for sanctity of life. Don’t expect me to praise mass murders who are supposed to face firing squad because they burned out and surrendered.” Moreso, the angry reaction of the wife of late Lt. Col.Ibrahim Sakaba of the Army 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, who was killed together with over 100 of his colleagues in 2018, after Boko Haram invaded their base in Borno State on November 18, 2018 trailed the Nigerian Army for giving repentant terrorists underserved attention. Oluwaseun, who took to her Instagram handle, lampooned the Nigerian Army and cursed the terrorists and held them responsible for the untimely death of her husband; giving her the early status of a widow. She also noted that many other women are widows and children orphaned by the terrorists.
The woman further alleged that the Nigerian Army is yet to settle the death benefits of her deceased husband. She wrote, “…I should forgive them for making me a young widow, I should forgive them for killing my husband, his brother and his mom. I should forgive them for making me seek shelter in another country. I should forgive them for making many women widows and kids fatherless…” The fear raised by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, who is at the helm of the epicentre of Boko Haram carnage on reintegration of repented Boko Haram terrorists into the society has a far reaching implication. The governor said; “the surrendering of 1,000 repentant Boko Haram terrorists had left Borno State and its people with two extremely difficult security dimensions. According to him, the current security situation, if not collectively handled by stakeholders, could lead to a civil rebellion.”
These vampires do not deserve the luxury of new clothing, assorted food items, groceries and toiletries freely given to them. Treat others the way you want to be treated is the golden rule. But they never treated their victims and Nigerians fairly. Therefore, government’s resolve to rehabilitate and pamper known enemies of the state is a misnomer, contemptuous, roundinsultive to the dead and completely a misplaced priority. The energy and attention given to these people should be channelled to the victims families, internally displaced persons which was a creation of the dastardly act of the so called repentant killers. Suffice it to say that the military midwifing the rehabilitation of these people should be cautious. When terrorists are given heroic welcome and treated to a state banquet on account of surrendering to the superior fire power of the military; many other people see a gold mine to explore with the understanding that a handsome reward awaits them after repenting from their evil ways. Why government has decided to treat murderers with kid gloves and protesters with bullets and sledge hammer beats ones imagination.
Repentance is never complete without running its full cycle of genuine restitution for atrocities committed against people and properties lost. At the moment, the courts should be entertaining charges of murder cases preferred against them by the state instead of rehabilitation. For the nation to heal, justice should run its full course in this instance.
If people who wore simple T-shirt bearing the inscription of “Buhari Must Go” could be arrested, detained, tortured and later charged to court, why not the murderous and self-confessed terrorists? Our laws and security operatives should not be seen to have lent support and credence to activities of murderers and barbarians. It is annoying and an insult to our collective sensibilities that instead of pleading guilty of crimes against the state in front of a jury, known killer insurgents now have a platform outside the law to plead for forgiveness.
The ultimate reward for murder and murder in pursuit of an utopian religious and bloody agenda is defined by law. For their misguided evil expedition; justice is better served in commensurate measures. He who kills by the sword should also die by the same sword. The gallows not forgiveness, rehabilitation or reintegration should be their desered resting place.
Eze, a media and communication specialist writes via sunnyeze02andahoo.com