There is visible anger among Nigerians over plans by the federal government to establish an agency for repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Reno Omokri are among Nigerians who have voiced their displeasure over the proposal. However, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay SAN, and Lagos lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN on Thursday backed the Senate’s moves to establish an agency for de-radicalisation of repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
But they warned the Federal Government to implement such plan carefully to prevent it from backfiring.
The Senate’s move followed the first reading of a Bill titled: “National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020” by the Senate.
The Bill was sponsored by a former Governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Geidam, representing Yobe East Senatorial District.
It seeks to, among others, provide avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalising, educating reconciling and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and detained members of Boko Haram to make them useful members of the society.
It is also expected to provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group.
Prof Sagay told The Nation that the idea of such an agency is not new around the world.
He said: “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.
“So, 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.
“I would say it’s a risky concept, although it happens. It’s a risky concept so we have to be very careful about it.
Adegboruwa also backed any good proposal to end the insurgency. He noted that a previous government implemented an amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants.
Adegboruwa said: “Every effort should be made to end the Boko Haram scourge, including possible de-radicalisation of repentant ones amongst them.
“A crime is a crime, no matter the weight; since (former) President Umar Yar’dua pardoned militants who raped, kidnapped and killed people, including foreigners, there is nothing wrong in reforming insurgents if they truly embrace amnesty.
“Part of the focus of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) involves the transformation of criminals for the good of society.
“However, all efforts should be made to properly monitor the repenting insurgents so that we don’t end up throwing the dreaded ones amongst them into the society to do more damage.”