The mass surrender of members of the terror group, Boko Haram, and the probable return of peace to troubled Northeast Nigeria should not be treated as an end to the decades-old insurgency, Major General Chris Musa, the Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, advised.
The new theatre commander said the people of Borno State and the northeast, in general, are encouraged to celebrate the recent mass surrender of some insurgents which is a precursor to an emerging peace but warned all cannot be seen to be well until the root causes of the insecurity are unravelled and tackled.
“We need to find out what we were doing when they (Boko Haram) started. What can we do to prevent it from happening again? Because if we don’t do it right now and when we finally achieve peace, we may end up going back to the past; and nobody wants to go back to his vomit.”
General Musa made this remark at the recent Borno stakeholders town hall meeting on insecurity where issues on surrendering Boko Haram fighters were discussed.
At the meeting, a cross-section of Borno stakeholders brainstormed and agreed that though it was difficult to accept those who inflicted pain and suffering on them in the last 12 years, it serves the greater purpose of achieving peace for repentant fighters to be forgiven and given a second chance.
In his message to the gathering, which caught across elected public officers, politicians, traditional and religious leaders, as well as victims and families of those who lost their lives in the conflict, General Musa insisted that the people and government of Borno State have to “critically look into the aspect of unravelling and tackling the root cause of the insurgency for a lasting solution.”
General Musa said even though the Boko Haram insurgents have willingly surrendered, the military “will continue to profile them” to ascertain the genuineness of their repentance.
He said the armed forces would not relent in doing the needful concerning the fight against Boko Haram as well as their repentance “because we have lost officers and soldiers in this operation.”
“Every day I go to barracks I meet families of soldiers and orphans of my personnel that were killed, so I should be aggrieved as well. But bitterness is a dangerous thing because if you allow it to eat you up, it will only affect you negatively and there is nothing that you can do,” he said.
The Theatre Commander commended the people of Borno State for deciding on the way forward. “We all know what is going on, but we thank God that an opportunity such as this has presented itself. I think we should all put our heads together and ensure the decision we take here is holistic.”
“We have had examples of other countries that have done their reconciliation committees where victims and perpetrators have sat down face to face with the insurgents and had agreed that they should move forward.”
He said the occasion and the current development in the frontline “is a golden opportunity” for the people to do the right thing. The General, however, acknowledged that while profiling the ‘repentant’ Boko Haram fighters, it was discovered that not all of them were willing combatants as some were forcefully conscripted.
“We will look at different ways of handling everybody at different stages; there are some of them that were conscripted forcefully – it wasn’t their fault, they don’t have anything they could have done; we will take them one side. Then we will face those who are combatants; they will face the victims. And after that, we will agree on what to do next.”
He also said that while trying to figure out what to do with the insurgents, it is also important that the victims are not forgotten when charting the way forward for the future.
“The victims will not be forgotten, because on most occasions we tend to focus on them, pacify them and forget the victims. That’s why there is a need for the federal government to come in because it is beyond the state. Even among those of them that have surrendered, we have people from other states. I think this represents everybody,” he said.
He added that the people that died in Borno State because of the Boko Haram insurgency all represent Nigeria, as such the issue of how to manage the repentant insurgents should be the responsibility of all Nigerians.
“The people that died in Borno State alone, especially from the angle of the military and paramilitary, all represent Nigeria. There is no local government in Nigeria that does not have somebody that died in Borno because of this insurgency. So, this is a Nigerian thing. So, I will want all of us to join hands together to ensure that we move forward.”
At the end of the town hall meeting, stakeholders issued a communique detailing their stand on the repentant Boko Haram and how best the dicey security situation can be better managed.
Support Our Journalism
There are millions of ordinary people affected by conflict in Africa whose stories are missing in the mainstream media. HumAngle is determined to tell those challenging and under-reported stories, hoping that the people impacted by these conflicts will find the safety and security they deserve.
To ensure that we continue to provide public service coverage, we have a small favour to ask you. We want you to be part of our journalistic endeavour by contributing a token to us.
Your donation will further promote a robust, free, and independent media.Donate Here