Niger-Delta Avengers v Boko Haram: The Difference Between Amnesty for Militants and Amnesty for Terrorists

Well, to go straight to the point: if it worked and helped reduce the activities of militants in the Delta who were fighting over their economic marginalisation even though it is understood that it is from the regions where they hail that the daily bread that feeds and developed the country came from. They had very little in the way of social infrastructure: schools, healthcare, roads and transport systems and to round it all up, they lived in hunger because the lands from which they farmed for their sustenance has lost its fertility due to world famous oil spills. If it worked for them, then perhaps it should work for another sect who has sworn its allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, who have sent more than 100,000 to early graves, kidnapping and using children as suicide bombers and; sending suicide bombers to murder children; a group who has sworn that its main motivation is religiously based but has killed a disproportionate number of the people who it should ordinarily seek to protect; a group who has made it to the top of every terror list in the world and exists today as another huge, enduring blemish on this mess that is the country Nigeria; right up there with “President” Buhari and his sycophantic cohorts.

The populace has become somewhat inured to events and propositions such as these but perhaps, this is where the line should be drawn. A great man once said: Are Buhari and his APC government raving mad? What? Have they not destroyed enough of the country to be satisfied and have made it another mission to transform Nigeria into another Afghanistan? Is the new mandate to make Nigeria into a global terrorists’ hub where the innocent die and the government foots the bill in a shameless attestation of state sponsored terrorism? It has been difficult to police the Nigerian borders and stem the influx of the reported people from Chad, Niger, etc. who would become soldiers for Boko Haram and other groups like the rampaging herdsmen but somehow, the present Nigerian government is considering it to be a better idea to issue a global call to every terrorist in the world that Buhari’s Nigeria is the home that they’ve been promised. Is this at last the coming to fruition of Buhari’s grand plan to Islamise Nigeria? WITH EXTREMISTS?

Clueless, shameless, too-old-to-be-so-foolish-but-still-so-foolish-anyway, downright pathetic and a colossally expensive failure that remains so intent on failing for another term perhaps to put beyond any doubt, that which three quarters of the country has known and endured for the greater part of three years. At any rate, this would be the crown jewel of the “Buharic” archetype of maladministration that has come to be defile the Nigeria that we know. Napoleon Bonaparte was quoted as saying “in politics, stupidity is not a handicap” and I fear that a man, so close to his grave that he loses any value whatsoever for the life and the inadvertent plight of the unfortunate living under him, may have taken this as a challenge and is out to out-perform any projections or expectations of understandable disappointment that may have been afforded him. On the bright side of things, Nigeria has lacked the role model of leadership to which future presidents might aspire but with the present administration choosing its path the way it has, they ought to set an incontestable lower boundary, you know, how not to rule a country even if one runs mad and loses every bit of reason once associated with them. But like a true Nigerian, let me not say anything.

Amnesty. One of the most famous example of amnesty, I like to restate was that afforded to Adolf Hitler. In 1933, the leader of the German National Socialists party who was made chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg who just wanted peace to reign. The rest, unfortunately, is the history that would see the death of at least twenty-five million Russians alone, five million Jews, and some of the worst human right violations that the world has ever seen. Amnesty. Living in Nigeria is challenging. First it was the Niger Delta Militants; a group of uneducated, armed men, who, fighting for what they believed was their right, kidnapped people and blew up industrial instalments that would cost the nation billions of dollars to live with, until eventually, it made economic sense to the government to pay them to stop. NYSC allowance still stands at N19,800, the lowest the militants gets is around N65,000 as at then. I have no idea how much it is now. If this doesn’t show a clear methodology into the thinking of the Nigerian leadership then what would? What is the point of spending 10+ years being educated when one could just become a militant and be set for life? The claims of militants may have had some credit to it but comparing that with terrorists inexplicably drains one of all their energy.

To compare the precepts of militancy using the Niger Delta groups as an example against that of Terrorism while conversely using Boko Haram as an instance, drawing conclusions reveal a subtle antithesis as far as both ideas may be considered. On the issue of militancy, it is not so difficult to define. The very idea of a militant represents a person or a group who may have risen to challenge existing order or authority. On the other hand, even security experts, owing to overlaps from different themes as well as seeming political, religious and social inputs involved, fail to converge on a singular denominator that qualifies the idea of terrorism and its motivations. With regards to amnesty, it should be understood that they describe any actions agreed upon between the belligerent groups and the extant authorities that have been structured to reduce the occurrence of militancy (usually violence). These could be in the form of financial incentives like that between the Nigerian govt. and the ND Militants or an agreement not to pursue stringent legal action, e.g. Nigerian govt. v MASSOB etc. In this case, the militants emphasise economic issues and marginalisation as their primary motivator as remarked earlier, so it does make sense to pander towards a financially centred solution. Till date, the civilian body count for the militant groups like the NDA remain zero and perhaps this is where the most important difference between a militant and a terrorist lies as well also as a good enough reason that backs the decision for an amnesty programme. For terrorism, other than the obvious imperative that Nigeria might be attempting to lay down a dangerous precedent regarding the global outlook on tackling terrorism with this act, it might be worth stating or reminding whoever proposed the amnesty deal that Boko Haram remains one of the deadliest terror groups in the world having killed close to 100,000 in Nigeria alone. This goes without stating other crimes like kidnappings, destruction of public and private property and the treasonous claiming of sovereign Nigerian territory; a recurring series of unfortunate events that have further impoverished even the poorest regions of the country. As for their motivations, on the religious end, amnesty for boko haram would ordinarily suggest that the government has found a way to make the non-Muslim population of Nigeria accept Islam as sworn by the Boko Haram leadership. On the socio-political end, it suggests that not only are their demands for territorial cessation heeded, but that also the laws that the govern the country would be discarded in favour of those which the terror group would seek to propagate. On the economic end, it is common knowledge in the country that the “technically defeated” Boko Haram collects taxes from the unfortunate who live in areas around their hide-outs; amnesty in this end would suggest that these taxes would not only be regularised but also legally binding with a possibility of constitutional amendments to this effect. Then on the probability that it is just senseless violence for the sake of it, what becomes the amnesty offer? Seven virgins as human sacrifice every full moon with a complementary blowing up of a random building?

Furthermore, returning to the premise of militancy and the Delta, other than the obvious realisation that the amnesty payments are in some sense, the government being made to be responsible for their inefficiencies and that in time when the country gets its act together and brings sustainable and dependable development to this region, the amnesty payments will die a natural death. In other words, the long-term plan for ending the amnesty programme in the Delta is to develop the region. This begs the question: what would be the long-term plan for the hypothetical situation where the FG pays amnesty to terrorists be and what is the projected cost? Would it make more sense to introduce welfare packages that cater to children, the elderly, infirm and unemployed with a view of improving living standards among the common people as an instance and to force a voluntary deradicalisation of those associated with the sect? The idea of amnesty payments is in its entirety, a bad idea and the sooner the FG shakes that madness of its mind, the better for the country. The way I see it, and arguably, the way any reasonable person should, it is better advisable to spend the resources on improving citizens’ welfare, security and law enforcement all around the country. The monies paid to the terrorists would be the same resources which would be pooled together to acquire weapons that would be used to further their nefarious ends anyway and we have seen this with the two sided kidnaps and ransom reports and agreements between the FG and Boko Haram. You don’t negotiate with terrorists, much less make amnesty payments to them; fight them until they surrender and continue even after their deaths.

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