Daily Trust (Abuja)

3 February 2013

Nigeria: Amnesty As a Panacea to Boko Haram Insurgency

Since the 27th August 2009 declaration and subsequent switching into action for a war called by Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf leader of the Islamic sect called Ahlil sunnah, Liddawati wal jihad popularly labeled as Boko-Haram, after unpopular humiliation of the sect members by security agents in Borno State, the state and indeed the whole of northern states and Nigeria at large, have run into a limitless degree of insecurity.

For critical Sociologists, the movement was for a transformation from a status quo of corrupt state to a new one believed to bring total justice and a society of corrupt free elements where all human beings could live without any form of molestation, which could be called a shariah state from Islamic and from the leader's point of view.

The leader was an accomplished theologian but never a Sociologist nor social scientist. It was a generational movement calling for the actualization of a shariah state, where corruption will cease. While youth were theoretically mobilized to the understanding of the shariah, and perfection of islam could happen only with the establishment of shariah state. Limitless number of youth took to guns believing the movement could succeed by war to establish Shari'a. Unfortunately to the dismay of the sect, the leader was extra-jucially killed, and that was the end of the declared war in 2009.

Majority of the youth who survived the war were left in very unfortunate situation. The security officials were relentlessly looking for them and they forced the youth into exile probably with weapons. As they lived on no salaries, quite a number of them could not afford to survive without engaging in acts that could be classified from legal point of view as armed robbery. This reality spelt out a complete state of chaos where nobody was safe. And more opportunists and real armed robbers operated alongside the frustrated sect members. The situation could be called today as a cold war.

Federal government has budgeted a trillion naira on security, about quarter of our total national budget. What are visible from this exercise are soldiers and policemen with new vehicles patrolling affected cities and towns. Nevertheless the reality on ground is that the states remain unsecured.

What is the solution?

As elsewhere I mentioned that there is a significant relationship between corruption and insecurity all over the world. Despite existence of anti-corruption agencies, like EFCC, ICPI, CCB, etc Nigeria, it is still one of the most corrupt nations of the world. Authorities remain irresponsible and irresponsive as trillions of naira budgetted are not judiciously expended. I doubt whether the allowances meant for the soldiers and police on duty in relation to the Boko Haram insurgency are actually paid to them. This is because same officers openly collect bribe to the disgrace of the federal government, collecting bribe as low as N20 from motorists.

I am quite sure it is impossible to value N20 if an officer is adequately paid extra allowances in addition to his salary. This indicated that the budgeted trillions have not been judiciously expended and are most likely embezzled by few individuals who wish the crises to continue. In the interest of Nigeria's corporate existence and general security, the Nigerian government must change the current approach, to curtail the Boko Haram crises.

The shortest way is, to declare Amnesty to all the sect members, call upon the presiding leader Sheikh Abubakar Shekau to declare cease fire. Abubakar should declare cease fire in the interest of everybody. Abubakar should be given absolute freedom from all sorts of humiliation. That he should not be arrested and declared pardoned by federal government. Since his apparent intention was justice for all, he could be mobilized by social scientists to become an active member in fighting corruption, by engaging him in duties related to collective justice and anti- corruption.

If Odemeghu Ojukwu was pardoned and brought to live in Nigeria, there should be no reason why Shekau should not be treated similarly. With such freedom he would declare cease fire and his followers must obey. All the boys should surrender their weapons and be placed on special rehabilitative training, with little payment that could be covered by less than a trillion naira.

Dr Kolo, Chief Lecturer in Sociology Umar El-Kanemi College of Education, Science and Technology Bama

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