As the FG has indicated it’s willingness to negotiate with Boko Haram,many have criticised the move. However, the Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy to Borno governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, Malam Isa Gusau has revealed why they are seeking amnesty for members of the Boko Haram insurgents.
In an interview with Sunday Trust, he explained why the governor is seeking amnesty for insurgents who have killed thousands
”The sense is simple and it is give window to insurgents that were conscripted; those who were forced to join the sect and become killers against their wish. The ultimate aim is to cut down the size of insurgents.
“When the insurgents attack communities, they mostly target male youths. They arrest them and guard them into bushes. In most cases, even before taking them out of the towns, they attack. They preach in support of their ideology with promises of heaven for adherents. Then, they openly ask if any of the youths wanted to join them or not. Whoever said he wasn’t ready to join them, they slaughter him right there, sometimes, in the presence of his parents. At times, they lay them on row and shoot all of them in matter of seconds targeting their skulls as killers walk round.
“We have seen many of these instances in videos recorded in Gwoza and other parts of Borno State. Now, what Governor Shettima has been saying is that hundreds of these forcefully arrested and initiated young men may want to run away and drop their arms. There should be a policy and programme to admit them so that insurgents lose members. Their strategy of arresting youths and forcing them to join them which is what they apply in surging their membership, can be deflated.
“I think the Governor’s call on May 29 has been vindicated less than two weeks ago. You might have read it on most news platforms that on Friday, July 3, 2015, Boko Haram insurgents beheaded 11 of its members who renounced their ideology. According to accounts by some locals, what happened was that some members of the sect, who are indigenes of some villages in Damboa local government area indicated interest to abandon the ideology. But most of them were afraid of the consequences.
“Out of them, 16 summoned courage to renounce the ideology and they moved to Miringa village in Biu local government area of Southern Borno. They wanted to join some residents of villages like Ajigin and Talala in Damboa who have been taking refuge in Miringa due to re-occurring attacks on the two villages by insurgents. The 16 insurgents went to Miringa on Friday, July 3 according to locals. Then at night, commanders in the Boko Haram, sent a team to Miringa to fish out the 16members that denounced the sect.“The team went from house to house and got the 16 members intact. They didn’t fire any shot in order not to attract soldiers. They took the members out of Miringa and slaughtered 11 of them and went away with 5. The bodies of the 11 ex-members were found the following day while the other 5 were not seen. Now, here is Governor Shettima’s analysis of this scenario. From an ordinary point of view, Nigerians may see it as nothing after all, the 11 members must have also killed people and they were insurgents anyway. So, they paid for their sins.
“But the Governor feels that what Boko Haram succeeded in doing is to stop losing mmembers because by slaughtering the 11 members, ,hey would have succeeded in stopping many others like the 11 who want to leave the ideology. The issue is this, if there had been a policy in place to give windows to those insurgents willing to abandon the ideology, these 11 members would probably have run to Government officials in charge of that policy and they would have returned their arms. That would have encouraged others willing to leave the sect.
“What will happen at the end is that the sect will be losing adherents which would have been a major psychological warfare. Of course, if the 11 ex-members had returned to security officials under an amnesty, they probably would have no choice but to offer information that could be helpful. They would have to do that in order to stay alive, knowing that their former colleagues in the sect would come after their lives. So, in order for the 11 ex-sect members to prevent being killed by the sect, they would offer information. The Governor also feels that it will be an endless war of attrition, to use his exact words. So, as long as those who might have been forcefully recruited cannot leave the sect because they have been identified with the sect, they won’t be safe if they return to the civilian population.”