Are: seek total surrender, reorientation of Boko Haram members before training



Mr. Gani Are is a Rwanda-based security and public policy expert. He is a project manager at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He told KAMAL TAYO OROPO that the top echelon of the Boko Haram terror group should be excluded from the package.

• No Amnesty For Boko Haram Leaders, Execute Them

How would you place the present state of war against Boko Haram?

As you can see, with the right leadership and equipment, the same Nigerian army has largely defeated the insurgency, as represented by Boko Haram. Other social and economic problems the country is facing can be surmounted with the right policies. That is what we have been advocating. What is left now is mopping up the debris. Occasionally, we will still hear of their activities –– terror groups don’t just disappear. We must now win the ideological war.

Considering the scale of atrocities they have committed, don’t you think they should still be prosecuted, rather been rehabilitated?
Of course, they should. They should be prosecuted and executed.

Are you saying that the present programme aimed at rehabilitating the repentant members is wrong?
Not exactly. What I’m saying is that we can rehabilitate the low ranks, but the leaders should be executed. That is justice.

Can the Amnesty programme in the Niger Delta be adopted in this instance; taking repentant Boko Haram members through vocational trainings?No. Not the way it was done in the Niger Delta. First, there must be disarmament and reintegration. How are we sure that they have renounced their ideology. So, there is

No. Not the way it was done in the Niger Delta. First, there must be disarmament and reintegration. How are we sure that they have renounced their ideology. So, there is need for reorientation before vocational training.

No. Not the way it was done in the Niger Delta. First, there must be disarmament and reintegration. How are we sure that they have renounced their ideology. So, there is need for reorientation before vocational training.

How confident are you that the programme will work; that members of the group will not go back to their evil ways?
That is the big question. They may have surrendered, because of lack of food and weapon. So, the government should work towards a surrender or a ceasefire with the group before we can talk of rehabilitation. For now, they are just prisoners of war.

While working towards total surrender or at least ceasefire, what should the government be doing with those that have formally repented?
The usual interrogation routine. Debriefing and intelligence collection. Keep them in protective custody. Trial of those found to have committed human rights violations. And demobilization.

Besides this attempt at rehabilitation, what other options are open to the government in ensuring total and sustainable victory?
Sustainable military pressure until they are ready to come to negotiation table. However, the non-combatants Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) can be taken care of.

Now that it appears progress has been made in the war against the insurgency, are there ways of avoiding a reoccurrence?
Like I said earlier, militarily and in terms territorial integrity of the nation, the war against the insurgency might have been, but the ideological war is still firmly in place. In fact, having said this, the war cannot be said have been won until the ringleaders, Shekau and the rest, are brought to justice.

As for avoiding reoccurrence, this entirely requires a different approach all together. It must be comprehensive and holistic. It requires a multi-dimensional approach.

Meanwhile, I have my reservation about this attempt at reconciliation. My feeling is such that it is often difficult to start reconciliation without a peace agreement or surrender. All I believe is that the government can do now is humanitarian intervention for the non-combatants IDPs. That is the area I am more particular about.

So, you will not consider the war won until Shekau and other ringleaders are caught?
Yes. The captured and surrendering should be treated according to the law of armed conflicts under the International Law. Say what you may about capital punishment, Shekau and other leaders should face firing squad.

The use of young girls as bombers is common with the Boko Haram, how should this be handled?
Some of these girls have also been indoctrinated: what is needed is special arrangement to re-introduce them into the society. In essence, we are talking of education and vigilance. We are also talking of robust intelligence and security. Reorientation and education and exposure to counter extreme ideology.

Is there any government agency on ground that could handle this task satisfactorily or is there a need to establish a dedicated agency?
There are many agencies like NEMA and National Orientation Agency (NOA), but what we need is inter-agency programmes.

Under prevailing situation, what role is expected of the civil society and religious leaders and institutions?
They have very important and crucial role to play. The civil society must step up its patriotic, not self-serving, advocacy. We must see heightened humanitarian charity and fundraising on their part. Lectures, trainings and so on should be paramount in their contributions to sustaining peaceful society.

In Kaduna, the state government is considering a law demanding that every religious leader must register with the umbrella body before preaching in the public. Would such step work in checking excesses of ‘preachers’ who spread extreme religious campaigns?
Yes. It is done even in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. It is only in Nigeria you have this type of unregulated religious practice. Before anyone can claim to be a pastor or imam, you need to be examined and certified by a religious body comprising of knowledgeable religious scholars in that religion and be licensed by government. That is the international standard.

Only in Nigeria you see church and mosque in every corner by pastors and imam, who are largely after monetary gains of promotion of ego without any religious depth. Nigerians should support the brave policy of the Kaduna State government. It is in the general interest of everybody; religious and non-religious individuals.

Can such be adopted nationally?
If we stop being Sadducees and Pharisees. Religion in the country has been hijacked by charlatans who use it to exploit gullible people looking for miracles. They no longer teach religious values. And that is why Nigeria is country of very religious people without piety.

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