Updated: March 6, 2021
My theory. Boko Haram is an enterprise. The wheel of the war must be kept spinning for the profiteers and racketeers of blood. The insurgency has raged on for more than a decade. And when it appears the vestiges of the insurgents are finally being erased, they rise again like the phoenix from the ashes – to become stronger, more coordinated and more ubiquitous. It is grand delusion to assume that the machinations of these deviants do not have insider abutment.
About 1,400 Boko Haram suspects have been released since the launch of Operation Safe Corridor in 2016. This is a programme for ‘’the deradicalisation and rehabilitation’’ of ex-Boko Haram fighters.
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Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman of the defence headquarters, confirmed the release of the suspects, and adding: ‘’About 800 ex Boko Haram fighters who would have unleashed unimaginable terror on citizens have been admitted and out of which 287 of them have been successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, with many still undergoing the DRR programme.”
But this does not add up. The insurgency is still at an eruptive and volcanic stage. Why release adversarial actors in the heat of a war? From my knowledge of rules of war, enemy combatants are often released at the end of hostilities or for the purpose of negotiation.
Even soldiers have expressed mortification over the release of their deadly adversaries and alleged complicity by higher authorities. A soldier, agonising over this sour development, said: “You wonder why Boko Haram members are on the increase? When we arrest them and bring them here, some top people would come and start negotiating their release. But, I will tell you some of these so-called suspects are returning to the bush and they were never repentant.”
How do you release the suspects and ensure they do not go back to their pastime of bloodletting? How do you really know they have been deradicalised? How do you measure the PH level of deradicalisation?
Shuaibu Moni, a Boko Haram commander, was released — though by a prisoner-swap deal — in 2017. He rejoined his brothers-at-carnage, bragging he would wreak more devastation on the peaceful population. And true to the pledge, his group went on a bolstered rampage afterwards.
Again, how do you deradicalise indoctrinated terrorists within months?
In an interview with Daily Trust published on February 9, Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, said 10 years was not even enough to deradicalise an indoctrinated person, so why the hurry to release Boko Haram suspects?
“It is an indoctrination that has taken roots between 10 and 40 years back. And for you to de-radicalise an individual to bring him back to sanity, you think it would just take you three years, four or 10 years?
“These are people that were brain-washed to believe that when they die they would go straight to heaven. And you think they would believe in you to bring them back to mix with people they refer to as unbelievers? You have to look at this context.”
I believe, the vilest iniquity this administration has executed on those killed by the unclean hands of Boko Haram is “rehabilitating and re-integrating” their killers into society.
How would the orphans, widows, widowers, the maimed and the deranged effectuated by the crusade of Boko Haram feel? How would soldiers risking their lives to confront this enemy feel? Why would they have the motivation to fight on when they know that their adversaries will be ‘’rehabilitated ‘’and released back into society?
Again, how do you ascertain whether these “repentant” Boko Haram fighters do not go back to their orgy of killing, maiming, raping and pillaging people and communities?
I am strongly of the opinion that this is where the fatal failure of the Buhari administration in the war against insurgency lies.
Boko Haram is an enterprise. If it is not, how do you explain these absurdities? Capture the terrorists, “rehabilitate” them, and then, release them back into the wild to continue from where they left off. Repeat the cycle, and the war goes on and on. This is while Boko Haram captures soldiers and makes a spectacle of their killing.
How do you release “repentant” terrorists in the heat of a bloody war? It is shocking!
No thinking government will pander to terrorists. We are on the security watch-list of the US as the immigrant visa ban on Nigeria obviously portends because we are a terrorism-enabling country.
Already, the chief of army staff has said Boko Haram cannot be wiped out, so the war enterprise must keep wheeling.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist. @FredrickNwabufo