Widows and other victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State have kicked against Federal Government’s amnesty for Boko Haram fighters, accusing the government of pampering the insurgents despite the atrocities they have committed against the society and humanity.
They accused the government of giving the insurgents preferential treatment at the expense of internally displaced persons, instead of prosecuting them for perpetrating such heinous crimes against humanity.
According to the IDPs in a BBC Hausa Service report on Thursday, the same government which has been spending huge resources on the insurgents has neglected the widows, orphans and other victims of Boko Haram’s attacks, who have been living in the various camps for so many years.
Some of the victims faulted the amnesty granted the insurgents, insisting that they should be prosecuted.
Federal Government announced a few weeks ago that 603 repentant Boko Haram insurgents, who had completed the de-radicalisation programme would be reintegrated into communities.
But the victims have opposed the government’s plan.
The BBC reported that a widowed mother of four said her husband was killed in her presence by Boko Haram members, some of whom, she said were being taken care of by government.
“I have not received any assistance. I am here left with four children. The kind of life we live now is, some days we eat some, other days we have nothing to eat and then you (government) say ‘Boko Haram fighters have repented,’ and you take care of them,” she said.
Another widow said she had spent six years in IDPs, saying, “What about us who have spent six years in the (IDP) camp? We are not taken care of. Only those who came from the bush, looking for amnesty are the ones being taken care of.
Yet another widow said she had been washing clothes for people to enable her to get money to feed her children.
“Honestly, the government has not been just on this issue because I don’t get money to feed my children until I go and wash (clothes/dishes) for people,” she said.
Another victim, who lost four brothers to Boko Haram attacks, said, “They drove us out of our homes. Are these the people we are going to live with as if nothing happened?”
A widow, Tata Hussaini, who has been living in an IDP camp in Maiduguri since 2014, when her husband was killed at Tumbum-Mata, Baga, said she had not seen her daughter who was kidnapped by the insurgents.
She expressed sadness that government is releasing insurgents who killed her husband and abducted her daughter.
Hussani said, “I do not know if she (her daughter) is still alive. She should be 13 years by now.
“I am sad that they (government) are releasing them (Boko Haram insurgents) despite killing my husband and many others. They have abducted my daughter and thousands of others. They have made living a pain for me and many others.”
She, however, appealed to the insurgents to release her daughter.
Another IDP in Maiduguri, Ayuba Ali, said he escaped from an attack in Baga, where his wife and three children were killed.
“If they (repentant insurgents) are released to the community, I may leave the community for another place. I do not believe they can repent,” he said.
Meimunat Mohammed, whose husband and six-year-old son were taken away in 2014 by Boko Haram in Baga, said the insurgents must have killed them.
Another widow, Marta Ibrahim, insisted that the insurgents must be prosecuted instead of forgiving them.
She said, “We were running when they killed my husband whom I did not even give proper burial.
“I do not support the amnesty plan and allowing them to walk free in society. They have made me to lose a lot. I do not have husband anymore. My children are without a father and I have turned to a beggar living in a camp since 2014. I feel I deserve justice and justice I demand. They should be prosecuted and not be freed.”
Besides the IDPs, a public affair commentator, Bulama Yerima and a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Prof Khalifa Dikwa, faulted the reintegration of the insurgents into society.
Yerima said it was wrong for security agencies to release “the so-called repentant insurgents in the name of reintegration at a time when five innocent souls were killed by Boko Haram.
“One notorious Boko Haram member reportedly came back to the Shehuri South community with some documents believed to be government clearance. It is an insult to our sense of reasoning and a clear statement that our lives don’t matter like those of Boko Haram.”
Yerima said Abdurahman Bulama, a resident of Shehuri, where the insurgent was to be reintegrated, was killed a few days ago.
He likened government’s treatment for insurgents to adding salt to injury.
He stated, “Our concern is not whether they are reformed and have regretted their evil past or not. Our concern is that huge resources are being spent on them, while innocent citizens, whose means of livelihood, including animals, farmlands, and cottage industries were totally destroyed, are being abandoned.
“If reformed insurgents are to be reintegrated, it is better you do that after victims of insurgency are rehabilitated and resettled in their communities before attempting to reintegrate reformed insurgents. What the military or government is doing now is like causing double injuries on citizens and further adding salt to those injuries.”
FG is showing preference for insurgents – UNMAID prof
Dikwa on his part accused the government of showing preference for the insurgents, accusing the authorities of insensitivity by its decision to reintegrate the insurgents to society.
He said, “This is utterly insane and insensitive to our feelings. Such a myopic decision can never be contemplated in sane climes.
“What is about to happen in the name of safe corridor (for Boko Haram) is a blatant show of preference for Boko Haram, whose comrades are still out there maiming, killing and kidnapping people, including humanitarian workers.
“Where do we situate the memory of our slain dear ones or the yet to be resettled traumatised victims of the 11 painful years of Boko Haram terrorism in terms of thousands of lives lost, widows, orphans and shattered extended proud families?”
JNI backs amnesty for B’Haram
But the Secretary-General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Dr Abubakar Khalid-Aliyu, said there was nothing wrong with the Federal Government’s amnesty programme for the repentant Boko Haram insurgents, if properly executed.
Khalid-Aliyu also suggested a “true healing” programme for the victims of the insurgents at the various IDPs camps.
He said, “One thing that I would like to say is that the internally displaced persons too need to have a funded programme by the Federal Government. What they need is true healing, which I think is not done properly. If they witness true healings, they will be able to see reason(s).
“There are two ways or dimensions to the problem. Government must find a way of tackling insurgency. In the world over, insurgency is not fought through only war. There other windows through which insurgency is won – confronting insurgents who opt for repentance (but a sincere one).”
A government official, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the community resistance to the de-radicalisation of Boko Haram members was understandable.
He said the people were still traumatised because they still remembered the gruesome killings of their loved ones.
He said, “The solution is a two-legged approach. One is the rehabilitation programme and the second one is to ensure community acceptance.The programme enjoys the support of foreign donors.
“The idea is to involve community and traditional leaders to reduce resistance. I am sure this will soon b