Hon Barnabas Ejuku Abiodun, an ex-Legislator of Yagba East LGA of Kogi state has expressed his opinion about the implementation of the Federal Government policy tagged “Operation Safe Corridor” that opens a window for Boko Haram fighters who so wish to surrender themselves to the Nigerian Military for de-radicalisation and re-integration into the society amidst foul cry and dissenchantment from the citizens following the release of another batch of 600 “repentant terrorists” into the society.
Referring to Section 175 of the Nigerian Constitution, Hon Barnabas opined that President Muhammadu Buhari may have been ill advised into approving such a very sensitive policy as it is inconsistent with the constitutional provision guiding the him in granting Presidential pardons to condemned criminals which only allows it to be pronounced after consultation and approval of the Council of State.
“Where and when was the meeting of the National Council of State held to that effect?,” he queried. He stated that Nigerians are helplessly watching with heavy hearts as dare devil terrorists who have killed citizens of Nigeria, raped innocent women, taken hundreds of our young Chibok and Dapchi girls into captivity and massacred the nation’s gallant troops are being recycled back into the society against all verifiable national and international conventions stipulating death as punishment against the act of terrorism which Nigeria is a signatory to.
“Will the widows and children of hundreds of our gallant soldiers felled gruesomely by the bullets of the rampaging Boko Haram terrorists ever get consoled? Will they ever get justice? Will parents of Chibok and Dapchi girls kidnapped and taken into captivity 6 years ago ever get relieved? Even as they may never set their eyes on their loved ones again, don’t they deserve government empathy to sooth their pain and agony over their missing children? Should Mr President make their burden heavier by releasing the terrorists who committed the crimes back into the society as free men with rights and privileges that makes them and other law abiding Nigerians green with envy? Certainly, Nigerians deserve a better treatment from it’s government than this,” he said.
Hon Barnabas noted that Nigeria anti terror bill pronounces death on terrorists and severe punishment for those who help them. He argued that Nigerians’ expectation of government is to charge terrorists to court and put them to death if found guilty and not to waste law abiding tax payers monies on de-radicalisation and re-integration process under the auspices of “Operation Safe Corridor”.
He derided the National Assembly for entertaining the obnoxious bill by Senator Ibrahim Gaidam seeking the creation of an agency to confer legitimate rights and privileges on so called “repentant” terrorists who had taken arms against the nation while their victims are out there languishing in displaced peoples camps far away from their ancestral homes and living in pitiable conditions.
The former legislator said “Operation Safe Corridor” will continue to be a sore pain in the lives of the victims of Boko Haram terror and Nigerian soldiers who are at constant risk of losing their lives at the battlefield.
More worrisome is the fact that while Boko Haram terrorists with the rude penchant for beheading captured Nigerian soldiers and people in gory videos they send to the public on social media amidst jubilation and chants of victory over the Nigerian Army and the nation at large, display their brazen acts without remorse.
Our government prefer to accord them red carpet treatment when the reverse is the case, all in the name of observing the rules of theatre engagements. “The right of protection of prisoners of war activates and applies strictly. For God sake this practice kills the morale of our soldiers and it must be stopped.
While I do not ascribe to any form of extrajudicial handling of any terrorists or prisoners of war, it is binding on the Nigerian Government to do the right thing in order to make this country secured for its citizens. Nigeria has robust laws that can take care of terrorists in order for justice to be served and delivered at the appropriate quarters. “Again, it is a known fact that the world over, terrorist may never consider the option of surrender or denounce their beliefs even when captured. They would rather fight to death or commit suicide should they have the the opportunity in order not to break the sanctity of their avowed commitment and sacred belief in the cause they are fighting for. So in the light of that knowledge, the idea of ‘repentance’ and de-radicalisation of a terrorist to many enlightened Nigerians is a mere fallacy and laughable. “I challenge the Military authority to show Nigerians evidence of where captured terrorists elsewhere outside Nigeria succumb to the appeal of repentance and de-radicalisation by the government they are fighting to the extent of agreeing to be re-integrated into the society maybe that will shed more lights on the intent and purpose that the Operation Safe Corridor is designed to serve by its designer.
“I therefore advocate by a way of appeal to Mr President to disband the so called ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ in the overall safety Nigerians. It is counterproductive to the fight against terrorism for our soldiers to apprehend terrorists, only for government to release them back into the society in the name of repentance and de-radicalisation. It is a national disaster and a worst form of approach to counter terrorism.What if terrorists pretend to be repentant after being captured knowing that it will be a matter of months for them to regain their freedom and of course go back to their formal ways? It is very possible.
While I respect Mr President’s constitutional right to grant pardon to condemned criminals within his jurisdiction, I strongly entertain the doubt that the powers were designed to entertain terrorists. I may be corrected if my notion is wrong but if it is right, then Mr President must design a better way of going about it without offending the sensibilities of Nigerians and compounding the pain and agonies of the victims while also being mindful of not dampening the morale of the Nigerian Soldiers. “Captured terrorists should not be re-integrated into the society by Government fiat, they should rather be allowed to face the wrath of the law and if found guilty, let the Nigeria Correctional Services perform its role as their custodian pending when their judgement is executed.
“Nigerian government must protect its citizens from further attacks by the terrorists. It must borrow a leaf from neighbouring Niger Republic that recently executed some captured Boko Haram terrorists by firing squad. Terrorists must not be allowed to escape punishment in neigbouring countries to land into safe heaven in Nigeria. We must not be perceived as country recycling terrorism,” he said.