Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Boko Haram, 'Justice' and Blackmail

If it is true that the Federal Government has actually decided to sit down and negotiate "peace" with some individuals who claim to represent Boko Haram, then the government has taken a decision that the country will forever regret. There is an English adage that says: "Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas".

I have two questions which I will discuss to justify my assertion that the so-called "dialogue" will bring nothing good to this country. Number one: Is this really the Boko Haram? Number two: What is "justice" for terrorists?

Is this Boko Haram? I doubt it. The Boko Haram that I know are Islamic Jihadists whose primary aim is to overthrow the Sokoto Caliphate, enthrone a radical Islamic regime in the North and from there attempt to force their ideology down the throats of peace-loving people of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. They are linked to Al Qaeda, whose quixotic daydream is to eliminate Christians, Jews and true Muslims (those who follow the principle that Islam is a religion of peace).

Then they will establish a new world order where AK-47 and daggers will replace forks and knives as cutlery for breakfast, grenades will be used to play soccer and suicide bombing will become a blood sport for spectators to pay and watch at stadiums. The Boko Haram under faceless Abubakar Shekau says it does not want Western education because according to them, "it is a sin". They have been killing Christians through suicide bombings mostly on Sundays while in church worshipping God. They have been targeting peace-loving Muslims, government officials and security personnel providing safety to Nigerians. They have been setting fire to schools in the North and orchestrating gun attacks on defenceless Southerners in the North.

They have been generally implacable. The only condition they have given for dialogue so far is the laughable notion that President Goodluck Jonathan should convert to Islam (thus showing they are also comedians). Apart from that, they want all their members in jail to be released to resume their murderous pastimes. Boko Haram does not believe in the laws and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They are outlaws, enemies of the government and people of Nigeria and therefore, not qualified for anybody paid with public funds to sit and negotiate with them for any reason. That is the group that I have always advocated and will always insist that we defeat on the battlefield just as we did Maitatsine and Mohammed Yusuf, the Boko Haram founder.

If Boko Haram is tired of killing innocent Nigerians, if they have been weakened and now want a safe passage out of their anarchy, then there is only one thing they must do. They must lay down their arms and come out hands in the air in unconditional surrender. The law enforcement agents will process them and visit them with the full weight of the law, as a deterrent to other anarchists in the future. Those among them, who are redeemable could be given presidential pardon, rehabilitated and assisted to become useful, productive, law abiding members of the Nigerian society, provided they confess their regret for their misguided actions.

This particular "Boko Haram" has no resemblance to the Boko Haram described above. This "Boko Haram" is looking for money! They are looking for financial gratification! I smell hungry politicians here. They are asking to be paid "Diyya", possibly the Arabic word for "post-amnesty" funding, just as the ex-militants of Niger Delta have been paid since October 2010. They want to receive compensation without even surrendering as the ex-militants did. I knew it was coming to this! One of my reasons for persistently opposing dialogue with Boko Haram is that from the early days, opportunists and MEND copy-cats among Northern public opinion peddlers saw Boko Haram killings as an opportunity to blackmail the Federal Government to give them the treatment the ex-militants of Niger Delta were given. I have always said the two do not match. The ex-militants are being paid with the oil money of Niger Delta - their money. Let those asking for "Diyya" be also paid with money realised from revenue from their own area, not the same oil money of Niger Delta!

And now, the issue of "justice". What is justice for a terrorist? The only justice for a person who, without provocation, decides to kill innocent people in their places of worship, in their homes or in their places of legitimate business, is a date with the hangman at the gallows. That's what our laws say, and the law must be implemented to fulfill the purpose of the law: creating deterrence to heinous crimes.

There is a danger in paying compensation to murderers and terrorists. It will encourage people to take to it as a lucrative business. Besides, once you pay this so-called "Diyya" to these Al Qaeda-linked Jihadists they will use the money to re-arm and come back. They will hold this country and every government that is not headed by a Northerner to ransom with constant threats to "return to the trenches". Besides, Salafists inspired by Al Qaeda never quit. As extremists, they are not amenable to negotiation. It never worked in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Gaza and Mali. You either crush them or they crush you. That was what happened in Algeria, Chechnya and Serbia.

Besides all this, I have a question for the Federal Government that is talking about paying out sums of money to relations of Boko Haram members "unjustly" killed: How much are they going to pay the Christians, law abiding Muslims and Southerners (particularly Igbos) whom these people killed? If you pay the killers and neglect those killed, where is the justice? Or is justice only for those who can give the Federal Government a bloody nose, such as MEND and Boko Haram?

If this is how we now define justice in Nigeria, then, to your tents, O Israel! The country is no longer worth it!

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