To my Nigerian friends, before we start frothing at the mouth whether Boko Haram is entitled to any amnesty, I ask the following questions:
1. Has any Boko Haram terrorist been apprehended?
2. If the answer to 1, is a yes, has he (or she) been brought to justice through the judicial system?
3. If the answer to 1 is yes and the answer to 2 is no, what does that say about a) the reliability of the justice system to provide assurance that the Nigerian judicial system is superior to jungle justice, for seeking redress?
4. If the answer to 1 is no, what assurance can the military give that all the “terrorists” that they have killed in their gallant effort to combat Boko Haram are indeed criminals? Where innocent lives have been lost (and I mean innocent here, not those habouring “Boko Haram”), has anyone thought about the potential of such losses to radicalise the fringe elements in the societies where those innocent people have been killed?
By the way, I do not support amnesty for criminals under any guise; but what steps [apart from shooting] has the Nigerian presidency (past and present) taken to ensure that the structures that are responsible for the maintenance of civil order were adequate to forestall (or at least minimise) the prevalence of insecurity as it is in Northern Nigeria today?
Does anyone really place faith in the immigration services [to ensure the integrity of our borders]; the Customs services [to prevent smuggling, amongst other duties]; the police [for maintenance of domestic law and order]; the justice system [for prompt, transparent and fair dispatch of justice]; the legislature [for providing an enduring legislative framework that engenders security] and the executive arm for the overall responsibility for the welfare of the country?
Lest you snicker, does anyone reading this piece pay some money to OPC for “security” regularly? If the police were adequate, would you need OPC? Good thing, perhaps that OPC is yet to start bombing government establishments in S/W Nigeria. But the presence of an armed militia called OPC is an aberration that underscores the failure of the police. Should OPC wake up tomorrow to demand for some obscure resource control and commences a bombing campaign to force the government to accede to its requests, perhaps you will realise then that terrorism is not as remote as you imagine.
I am no expert in human psychology, but I have read enough to recognise that there will always be all shades of radical (and criminal) ideologies, seeking converts for their nefarious objectives. In the absence of readily available and legal options for economic empowerment and legal redress when rights are infringed upon, radical ideologies that offer promises of an alternative would easily garner adherents [which is why you pay OPC]. I can safely say that the repeated failure of these organs of the state that have, amongst other factors, precipitated all shades of militants and terrorists – and more importantly, given them the critical mass in membership that has seen them afflict such damage to the nation.
Amnesty to criminals sends a message to others – be sufficiently and persistently brutal in your agitations and your rewards will be in oil lifting allocations and presidential pardon. Truth be told, by granting amnesty to criminals without addressing these issues of state failure, what the nation faces is simply death by a thousand cuts.