Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) on Wednesday cautioned that setting free alleged repentant Boko Haram members could be dangerous to the society.
Babakura Jato, commissioner of information in Borno State had recently said that 1,400 repentant Boko Haram suspects had been released in three tranches since Operation Safe Corridor programmed, an initiative for the deradicalisation and rehabilitation of all former Boko Haram members was launched.
However, soldiers, who confirmed the release of the suspects said they did not understand why suspected Boko Haram members are being released in large numbers.
“A lot of soldiers are not happy about this. We were there at the Maimalari barracks when some of these Boko Haram people were released,” one of the soldiers said.
“The authorities are releasing them, but Boko Haram elements are killing soldiers that they capture. This does not make sense to us at all. We continue to sweep across the bushes to flush these people out, and then the government will release them. Does that not amount to wasted efforts?”
Speaking on the issue in a chat with Daily Independent, Sagay said while the idea of deradicalisation of the Boko Haram members is a good idea, he is not sure the Nigerian Army is implementing it correctly as it is not easy to tell if the Boko Haram members are genuinely repentant and won’t go back to their former ways.
“I think the idea is to deradicalise them and change their orientation after which they could use them for information purposes and then turn into useful citizens”.
“While it is not a bad idea, the implementation could be dangerous because if you now release people who have not really changed at heart, it could then become a danger to the society”.
“It happens. In Britain now, somebody was in prison for a very short time and then released prematurely. He went about committing terrorist acts in the streets until he was shot. So, that is the issue”.
“To what extent have you deradicalised and totally reoriented these repentant Boko Haram members to make them committed to a democratic society that is free from danger? It is a difficult thing. The idea is okay but I am not sure they are implementing it correctly. That is my fear” he said.