WHY REPENTANT TERRORISTS MUST FACE TRIAL- LEADERSHIP EDITORIAL

Members of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, terrorist groups who recently surrendered to the Nigerian Army in the North have begged Nigerians to forgive them for their activities as terrorists and the mayhem they inflicted on the people.

Among those who surrendered is the alleged chief bomb expert of the terrorists known as Musa Adamu, a.k.a Mala Musa Abuja, and his second-in-command, Usman Adamu, also called Abu Darda, along with their families in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. The repentant terrorists and their families numbered 335 fighters, 746 adult women, and children including one of the abducted Chibok girls.

As a newspaper, our stand has always been against amnesty for terrorists and bandits and that position has not changed. It is instructive to note that since Boko Haram started their orgy of violence and killings in 2009, the North East in particular and Nigeria, in general, have not known peace. According to reports, in the last 12 years since the group chose the path of bloodbath, over 100,000 Nigerians have been killed while over 2.5 million have been displaced. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have also disclosed that the number of displaced children in the Boko Haram ravaged North East region is 1.4 million.


The Federal Government, United Nations, European Union, and World Bank agree that an estimated $9 billion would be required for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in the six North-East states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe.

Indeed, since the death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau who was killed by ISWAP, thousands of terrorists have defected and surrendered. In the considered opinion of this newspaper, the so-called repentance can never be genuine and so should not be taken seriously to the extent of opening the socio-political and economic space to them amid the war of attrition they created and the damages it caused to both human and material resources.

We recall the case of Auwal Daudawa, the bandit who was pardoned after he masterminded the abduction of over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State. Daudawa was killed nine days after by a faction of the terrorist gang as soon as he returned to the forest to take up arms.

Also, the case of a repentant Boko Haram member, who was recently integrated into the community, but who turned around to kill his father, stole his wealth, and disappeared in the bushes of Borno State.

What wrong can anyone say that has been done to the bandits to warrant the state taking it upon itself to negotiate with them or grant them amnesty? According to reports by the International Crisis Group, In the last decade, more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger, and Zamfara.

In our view, rehabilitating, de-radicalising, and releasing Boko Haram members is an insult to the brave men and women of the military who have lost their lives defending the country and will be tantamount to spitting on their graves.

It is gratifying to note that the Nigerian Army has said there is no plan to release surrendered Boko Haram terrorists after rehabilitation. The army explained that being a professional organization, the Nigerian Army will process the surrendered terrorists and pass them over to prosecuting agencies. As far as we are concerned, that is the appropriate thing to do.

We also commend the recent military onslaught against terrorists and bandits. Recent reports indicate the Nigerian military forces are dealing ruthlessly with bandits terrorising residents of Niger State, dispatching 70 of them to early graves. The feat was achieved via Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopters deployed for the ongoing Operation Gama Aiki (OPGA) in Niger State. We urge our security forces to sustain the momentum and take out bandits and terrorists to the last man.

Also, suggest that the federal government activate the court of practice direction in terrorism and banditry cases. Court practice direction is a protocol stipulated by a court to serve as the procedure for civil and criminals cases. It is also a set of laid-down rules of how a court will function.

The practice direction was intended to fast-track the criminal trials, relating to offenses of terrorism, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, rape, corruption, and money laundering cases, and ensure that delays in criminal trials are largely eliminated.

Under this practice, the court shall ensure that criminal cases are fully ready for trial before hearing dates are agreed to minimize undue adjournments and delays, and parties involved in the trials should focus only on important matters. From the foregoing, we insist that repentant terrorists must face trial.  Amnesty should never be an option for terrorists and bandits.

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