A proposal before the Senate for the rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram members has been described as “risky”, although not totally out of place.
The Senate on Thursday got a Bill seeking “An agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020”.
It is sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe East).
The agency, according to the Bill, “is to help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the programme will enable some convicted or suspected terrorists to express remorse over their actions, repent and recant their violent ideology and re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.”
Speaking on the Bill, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said: “I would say it’s a risky concept. We have to be very careful about it.”
He added: “That practice does exist in some countries. It is one that has to be handled very delicately, otherwise it could backfire.
“For example, if the person is not yet fully repentant or pretends and you get carried away and restore him to normal civil life as if nothing has happened, it could give him another opportunity to strike a deadly blow.
“It’s something that could be done very carefully, and then you have to be very particular about who you choose. It cannot be a very large scale thing, so that people may not think that you can commit horrors and later on you’ll be accepted back into society without consequence.”
Another lawyer, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) said any good proposal to end the insurgency is welcome. He noted that a previous government implemented an amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants.
Adegboruwa explained that: “Every effort should be made to end the Boko Haram scourge, including possible de-radicalisation of repentant ones amongst them.