igeria has suffered from the terrible atrocities of Boko Haram extremists in the past. It is clear that the terrorist organization has been responsible for the deaths of over 35,000 individuals and the destruction of their property since its start, a terrorist group that has left many homeless, widowed, and orphaned. There is no cure, no successful counter-offensive, and no victory. Despite this, governments and authorities are praising Boko Haram’s remorse, an action that has the potential to encumber our budding democracy and jeopardize lives and property.
To begin, Nigeria is a democratic country guided by the principles of the rule of law, social justice, and equity. It is true that the Nigerian army is giving it their all, but there is one question that remains unanswered: what is the reason behind the army’s continued failure against the country’s adversary? As a result of the armed forces’, intelligence agencies’, and security agencies’ continuous operations, substantial numbers of terrorists have recently repented and surrendered in the North East. Instead of taking harsh legal steps, the government has unjustly discharged, pardoned, and released Boko Haram terrorists and bandits who hide behind the garb of repentance, conscience pangs, feelings of regret, and contriteness.
On the contrary, the administration, which has acquitted national security charges, has frowned upon concerned individuals who are solely worried about the country’s condition. We have nonviolent anti-terrorism protesters in custody, yet terrorists who have killed tens of thousands have been pardoned. It is a pity. Our democracy’s grandeur and future, as well as our country’s corporate survival, are all under jeopardy.
Surprisingly, Nigeria as a federation is governed by the principles of constitutionalism and the notion of rule of law, with a constitution that prescribes the actions of all citizens, rulers and ruled alike. “This constitution is supreme, and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” says section 1(1) of the Nigerian constitution. We cannot agree less for Boko Haram, whose crimes are illegal under the law but are pardoned and overlooked by the government without any trial in any court of competent jurisdiction.
The concerned authorities, who have failed to do their share in bringing these criminals to justice, will take it upon themselves to punish anyone who attempts to usurp affinity reign of impunity in the country. This is a travesty of justice. Section 39(1) of the constitution provides freedom of speech and expression, stating that “every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, including the right to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and information without implication.” Though there are exceptions, can we honestly compare it to people who kill unjustly without any constitutional basis, much alone those who break the law and are nonetheless pampered by the authorities?
Moving forward, the Executive President, not the military body, has the right to grant compassion prerogatives. The Nigerian constitution is one of my favourites since it is quite clear in all areas. When people act in violation of its prohibitions, I am astonished and even unmoved. Any criminals apprehended by the army should be handed over to the Attorney General to be dealt with properly. Separation of powers exists for this reason. A government organ cannot preside over the duties of another. Under that law, why should the Nigerian army, which is not a court, convict and release a believed innocent person? How and what basis did you use in presuming he is a Boko Haram when he has not been declared a Boko Haram by a court of law? “Every individual accused with a criminal offence will be assumed innocent unless proven guilty,” says Section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
There are some imagined contrasts between the terrorists who have been acquitted and the activists who have been caught and imprisoned as time goes on. Terrorists battle with guns, activists fight with words; terrorists bring sorrow, tears and blood, activists offer them hope; terrorists destroy hope for a brighter future, activists restore it. There are hundreds of ways, far beyond my terrorists and activists comparisons. Why should a constitutionally controlled state punish activists who are simply exercising their freedom to express their dissatisfaction with an instrument of their right in order to make the country healthier and more livable?
Furthermore, the government’s failure to defend and secure the lives and property of the people, which is one of its fundamental goals as outlined in Section 14(2b) of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution as amended, is unjust, ill-fated, and illegal. “The government is leaving her leprosy to kill ringworm,” as my people will remark. Instead of dealing with her genuine problem, instead of punishing the country’s enemies, Nigeria’s government is busy pampering them by offering them undeserved amnesty, while treating activists like her true despised enemies by imprisoning them without due process.
To summarize, Boko Haram is marching to the beat of its own drum, while the government passively follows suit. A fire cannot be extinguished by igniting new areas. Nigeria should not sit idly by while those who break her laws get away with it. To bring the Boko Haram insurgency to a halt, the Nigerian government must treat the terrorists as criminals who must be prosecuted. However, if it does not do so, the administration will be questioned for failing to address the current security crisis.