‘Repentant’ Boko Haram: When rebellion pays

By Dr Dons Eze

To have been a Boko Haram fighter, killed hundreds of people, burned down houses, churches and mosques, bombed market places and other public buildings, kidnapped and raped young girls, and then, turn round to claim to be a “repentant” Boko Haram terrorist, has now become of tremendous benefit. It will open vistas of opportunities for any such a person, or persons, and catapult them to high pedestals.

For the past ten years, Nigeria has been battling the monster called Boko Haram, which for no justifiable reason, other than that they want to impose their belief on every other Nigerian, had held the country to ransom, and almost brought it down on its knees. In the process, thousands of lives were lost, hundreds of others kidnapped, valuable properties destroyed, and several territories lost.

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Then, all of a sudden, some of these people who committed these heinous crimes, who caused havoc in Nigeria, who sought to torpedo the ship of state and hoisted their flags on some parts of the country, surfaced and claimed to have repented, to be “born again”. We rejoiced, clapped our hands, hailed them, embraced them, and began to give them the best treatment, and to absorb them into the military and other places of importance.

As if these were not enough, we now want to send these “repentant” Boko Haram fighters, overseas to receive foreign education. According to a bill now lying before the Senate, both the federal and state governments as well as some government agencies are to fund the overseas trainings of the “repentant” terrorists, while projects that would cater for their welfare would be established.

Known as the bill known for the “Establishment of National Agency for Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria and for Other Connected Purposes”, would give these “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists unlimited opportunities to take care of their lives.

According to the bill, “(The agency shall) implement programmes geared towards the rehabilitation of beneficiaries, engage the services of offshore and Nigerian institutions in the pursuit of the educational needs of ex-agitators”.

It will implement a comprehensive programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration as well as coordinate efforts of relevant agencies, organizations and institutions towards the attainment of set objectives as regards job placement, internship and sustainable reintegration.

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The proposed Agency will get its funding from the Universal Basic Education Commission and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund as well as donations, grants, annual subventions from the government and counterpart funding from the six North-East states of Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe.

The agency will also be funded by 0.5 per cent of the federal allocation of the six North-East states as well as a compulsory two per cent profit tax that is paid by all registered companies to the Federal Government, grants in aid, gift, testamentary dispositions, endowments and donations.

The bill has already scaled its First Reading in the Senate.

According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Geidam, a former Governor of Yobe State, “many Boko Haram terrorists are willing to lay down their arms, but are afraid of the consequences of their action”.

Section 10 of the bill reads in part, “The agency shall establish and maintain a fund which will consist of initial take-off grant from the Federal Government; annual subvention from the government; states counterpart funding which will be deducted at source at 0.5 per cent of their statutory allocation; 1 per cent of the Education Tax Fund (TETFund) and UBEC fund”.

The bill further states that the proposed agency would have a governing board which would consist of the chairman who is to be appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly, one representative from each of the North-East states, one representative each of the stakeholders, three representatives of the impacted communities, one person from the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, all of whom must not be below the rank of lieutenant colonel.

It would also include one representative each from the Federal Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Finance, Environment, Petroleum Resources, North-East Development Commission and the Local Content Board.

What an excellent and beautiful way to encourage rebellion, a good way to reward those who took up arms against Nigeria, who hoisted their flag on Nigerian territory, who killed thousands of Nigerians, kidnapped many people, destroyed valuable properties and rendered millions of people homeless!

Once this bill is passed and signed to law by the President, we are going to witness floodgates of people, thousands of people, who claim to have been former Boko Haram terrorists, but have repented, and our government will be duty bound to take care of them.

We are also going to witness other groups take up arms against Nigeria. Later, they will “repent”, and our government will as well reward them in like manner.

Nigeria is a bundle of contradictions, a country where things work in opposite direction. When they talk about rewarding “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists and giving them foreign education, they never thought about thousands of victims of Boko Haram, who were brutalized, dehumanized, traumatized, others without limbs, others who were kidnapped or who were driven out of their ancestral homes by the Boko Haram terrorists? How will they be treated!

In other words, while the assailants, the Boko Haramists, are treated as heroes and given the best treatment, the victims of Boko Haram are scorned and left abandoned

They never thought about millions of other young Nigerians who did not commit any crime against Nigeria, who lead decent and honest life, and who after struggling to fortify themselves with necessary education, remain unemployed, and left to roam the streets without jobs.

At any rate, did they not tell us that “Boko Haram” means “Western education is evil”, how come then, that they want to give “repentant” Boko Haramists foreign education? Which foreign country will they send them for that education? Obviously, it must not be to any Western country, to Europe or America. If that be the case, we believe that it is going be to Iraq or Iran, so that they can be further radicalize, which is a proof that some people somewhere are sponsoring these terrorists.

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