Former governor of Yobe State and senator representing Yobe East senatorial district, Ibrahim Gaidam, yesterday, declared that Boko Haram fighters were ready to accept amnesty, if granted by the Federal Government.
The senator, last week, sponsored a controversial bill, “National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria.”
“ He said “there are many Boko Haram members who want to lay their arms, but are afraid that they will be killed if they come out to do that”.
He said his bill was being misconstrued by some people and his intention was not to establish a commission for Boko Haram members but for those willingly surrender their arms and embrace peace.
He said, as a senator from the North-East, he understood clearly what his people wanted. He also vowed not to jettison the controversial bill, despite growing opposition from fellow senators.
“The rehabilitation is for those who have voluntarily surrendered. The 1,400 repentant Boko Haram released are not those who were captured by soldiers. They’re those who on their own gave up. There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realising the futility of the course they are pursuing, have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace.
“Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Reintegration of Repentant Insurgents to accommodate the defectors.
“The concept of de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration are global practices. Lots of countries, including Britain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq have formulated various models of de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes to combat the menace of radicalisation, with significant measure of success.
“In dealing with insurgency, the Nigerian government needs to introduce both preventive and corrective measures in addressing violent extremism. The challenge today is to ensure repentant terrorists are rehabilitated in the best possible way so that they become useful members of the society,” Gaidam said.
Asked if he would jettison the bill, following growing criticism, he said “If the bill is not passed, we are in a democracy. There is nothing I can do about it. But I will lobby for it to be passed.”
However, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) has warned that the bill to set up an agency for repentant Boko Haram terrorists would break up the country.
Leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, alleged that the bill was targeted at the people of the South-East and South-South zones, and a plot by northerners to syphon the country’s treasury.
“The move to introduce the bill for the establishment of a national agency for repentant Boko Haram terrorists by the Senate is another grand plot to transfer more Boko Haram trained terrorist with their terrorist activities to the southern part of Nigeria,” he said..
Madu, however, stated that MASSOB would resist every move that would continue to fan the embers of discord and enmity between Nigeria’s nationalities.
He warned that the Federal Government’s continued preferential treatment for Boko Haram and other criminal elements would lead to breakup of Nigeria.
Madu said: “Every agenda of the Federal Government to treat the Fulani, Boko Haram members and the criminal bandits operating in core northern states as beloved children of Arewa must lead to breakup of Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s partial treatment of his kinsmen and members of his religious faith against other citizens of Nigeria have vindicated MASSOB in our self-determination struggle for Biafra’s actualisation.”