A security expert, Chidi Omeje encourages President Bola Tinubu to focus on reforming rather than ending the De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration Programme for repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
Omeje in a chat with Punch believes that only relying on direct force, or kinetic means, will not bring about the desired end to the insurgency.
He argues that non-kinetic methods, such as amnesty programs, have a key role in countering these security threats.
He said, “I think the President needs to tarry because of the advantages of giving amnesty, which include encouraging others to surrender and it has discouraged the lumping of insurgents with some people who were conscripted into terrorism.
“I am sure he has good intentions because there are also some people who have found their way back after being released into society. But we should look at the larger picture and how we can encourage more people to surrender. Rather than stop it, I think reform will help bring about the best in the programme.”
But a security consultant, Oladele Fajana, disagreed with suggestions that the programme should continue, saying, “We should stop encouraging criminality in the country. I don’t subscribe to offering money or other things for criminals to lay down their arms.
“What about those who have shunned crime and had their loved ones killed by terrorists? Besides, how long do you want to continue to give them free money? Many of those surrendering were forced to join the sect, but we should not make them live better than the victims, some of whom are still struggling with life.”
Emeka Etiaba, a high-ranking lawyer, has expressed concerns about the impending prosecution of 2,000 arrested insurgents. He emphasizes the current shortage of judges and predicts potential negative impacts on ongoing cases.
Etiaba points out that the large number of cases related to these suspects could cause delays in other trials. He said, “in the dockets of the assigned judges will suffer.”
However, Etiaba provides a potential solution to the strain on the judicial system. If suspects are grouped together for their trials, the burden on individual judges could be lessened, he noted.
He said, “It (number of judges) can’t be adequate. The important thing is that something would have started. Out of the 2,000 Boko Haram suspects, many of them may be tried in groups, so if you have 100 charged together, that becomes one case.”
Another senior lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, said the use of technology could quicken the prosecution of terror cases, noting that criminal cases were relatively easier to prove in some circumstances.
He added, “For the Boko Haram suspects they have arrested in the cause of committing this atrocity, the onus will shift on them to explain where they got arms from and why they are doing what they are doing.
“These days, it is no longer by long hands; if you deploy technology, in record time, they will finish the cases. We wish the Federal Government the best of luck.”
A security expert, Olalekan Ojo, said eight judges were enough to prosecute the insurgents, noting that since the crimes were monolithic, judgments could be passed concurrently.
“All of them committed the same offence; taking arms against the country. In this case, 50 of them can be taken to court at the same time. So, in only one to three weeks, each of them (judges) can send 50 people to jail,” he argued.
Ojo, however, expressed doubts about the planned trial, noting that the insurgents still had political and religious sympathisers.
“Are we really sure that they are going to prosecute these people? I am in doubt because these are the same people who were granted amnesty somehow. Those people that have political and religious sympathies; are they all dead? They are not dead,” he declared.
On his part, Patrick Agbambu, a security analyst, stated, “What is unclear about the plan is if the eight judges will form the jury or each judge will preside over a court session. A little more information needs to be provided about that. But by and large, it’s a welcome development and Nigerians are looking forward to the speedy trial of the suspects.”