Nigeria’s federal government on Friday said the demand by some Nigerians for the prosecution of repentant Boko Haram fighters rather than granting them amnesty, was against global best practices, and that it would not accept such call.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this Friday in Washington, during his engagement with global media outlets, think-tanks and influencers.
The minister said: “I personally spoke to the military authorities before I left Nigeria and they said what they were doing was what the global practice dictates about soldiers that surrendered; that they should be treated as prisoners of war.
“You cannot just shoot them because there are international conventions that give rights also to prisoners of war. What the military is doing is that, when they surrender, they profile them to ensure that they are genuine and reintegrate them into the society,” he said.
Mohammed also said government will not recruit the repentant Boko Haram fighters, who have been surrendering to the military, into the Nigerian Army as being rumoured in some quarters.
The minister described the claim as “false and demoralising”, adding: “fifth columnists and naysayers should stop spewing negative and false narratives around Boko Haram members who are surrendering in droves in the North-East.”
He said it was unfortunate and inconceivable that some Nigerians would be going about such fake news.
No fewer than 1,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families had handed themselves over to Army units in recent weeks in the southern Borno towns of Konduga, Bama, and Mafa.
The minister also berated those alleging that the surrendered insurgents were not actual Boko Haram fighters and that if they were, they should be shot rather than granted amnesty.
Mohammed said rather than changing the narratives, President Muhammadu Buhari and the military should be respectfully commended for their resourcefulness and doggedness respectively, in the fight against insurgency.
He said: “The fact that we are witnessing insurgents submitting in droves calls for commendation of our military for their doggedness.
“We must not forget that two months ago, Nigerians were putting pressure on the President to recruit mercenaries to fight the war against terror because they said we were losing the war.
“The President, however, remained focused and confident in his belief in the Nigerian military that they have what it takes to defeat the insurgents. We thank God that Mr. President today has been proven right.
“We were able to achieve this, largely because of the leadership of Mr. President in providing the wherewithal continually to the military and ensuring that their fighting morale is sustained by way of welfare packages.”
Mohammed also said that the situation in Afghanistan was not the same as in Nigeria because there was no time in Nigeria that the military had engaged repentant militants.
For those yet to surrender, the minister said the military would not rest on its oars but continue to pursue Boko Haram and ISWAP members until they could no longer be harmful to Nigerians.
At another forum in Germany on Friday with global media outlets, think tanks and influencers, the Minister of Information declared that terrorism had no boundary and that no part of the world is safe if it is allowed to thrive.
He underscored the need for the developed world to see terrorism as a global threat, saying: “Terrorism is global and has no boundary. For the world to be saved, every corner of the world must be saved.”
He adds: “We can see from the example of the US, where Taliban takes over Afghanistan, a pointer to how difficult it is to fight terrorism driven by ideology.
“The western world should look into helping developing nations like Nigeria in developing their infrastructure.
“This will help to create employment and quality livelihood that will make it difficult for an ideological group like Boko Haram to recruit the youths.”
The minister called for the support of the US and other countries in Nigeria’s fight against the Boko Haram, adding that global support would go a long way in stamping out the menace.