The Senate yesterday asked the federal government to follow the example of United Arab Emirate, UAE, in fishing out sponsors of Boko Haram in Nigeria for immediate prosecution.
It also took a swipe at the Nigerian Army over its amnesty for repentant Boko Haram terrorists who have engaged in massive killing and wanton destruction of properties and called for a total jettisoning of the program.
Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, shortly after the closed-door meeting with the Chief of Army Staff, General Yusuf Buratai, for the defense of 2021 budget proposals, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, noted that the UAE did a good job by jailing those sponsoring Boko Haram, lamenting that the pace of prosecution in Nigeria was too slow.
He also declared that granting repentant Boko Haram terrorist amnesty might be counter-productive to the war against terror. The call by the Upper Chamber for the unveiling and prosecution of Boko Haram sponsors came a few days after six Nigerians were jailed in the United Arab Emirates for sponsoring Boko Haram.
Ndume said: “We are very grateful to the government of UAE and we are still appealing to our government to bring those directly or indirectly involved in Boko Haram activities to book immediately.
“We disagree with the idea of deradicalization and reintegration of purported Boko Haram terrorists. The position of the executive is different. We still maintain that you can’t be pampering people while their victims are still suffering in IDP camps.
“We are still calling on the Nigerian government that those that are directly or indirectly involved in Boko Haram activities should be brought to book and used as an example. I think we have not been up and doing on that.
“I am in disagreement with the government on the issue of deradicalizing and reintegrating (Boko Haram repentants). I still maintain that you can’t be resettling people, pampering them while the war is on. The committee and I believe many Nigerians are on the same page on this.”
Ndume, who recalled how a repentant Boko Haram member was fingered in the ambush that led to the death of the Commander of 25 Task Force Brigade in Damboa, Borno State, Col. D.C. Bako, in September this year, maintained that the magnitude of their atrocities doesn’t qualify them for amnesty. He also recalled that in his village alone, 75 elderly Ulamas were murdered in one instance by the terrorists in 2015.
According to him, the purportedly repentant terrorist was giving information relating to the movement of the Army which led to the killing of a General recently.
“They can be kept as prisoners of war. After that, you profile them and charge those that are supposed to be charged to court, and those that are victims of Boko Haram that were forcibly conscripted should be released,’’ he said. It will be recalled that recently, six Nigerians were jailed after a Federal Appeal Court in the UAE upheld their convictions for funding Boko Haram.
The six, who was initially tried and convicted last year, following their arrest in 2017, include Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu to life imprisonment.
Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbdurRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf, and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were each given a ten-year sentence Speaking further, Ndume said: “Can you imagine that the Nigeria Army or the Nigerian government is saying that because these people have gone to repent, or they say they have their hands up, you bring them back and pamper them.’’
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee has promised to liaise with the executive arm of government on the need to ensure more funding for the Nigerian Army, especially capital vote, in view of its engagements across the country.
Senator Ndume, who noted that the Army was being under-funded, in spite of its enormous responsibilities in protecting the nation, said the Army’s 2021 budget was grossly inadequate.
He said: “The three arms of government are supposed to work hand in hand. We have engaged the Nigerian Army and we are going to engage the executive to make them understand that based on what we oversight, what they budgeted for the Army should be increased.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army last night released a list of 86 persons wanted in connection with acts of terrorism.
Those on the list are alleged to be members of the Boko Haram sect.
Among those on the list are Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abu Musa Al Barnawi, Modu Sulum, Malkam Umar, Bello Husba, Yan Kolo, Ibrahim Abu Maryam, Baka Kwasari, Bana Gonna, Mohammed Abu Maryam, Abu Imma, and Abu Dardda.
The list was launched by Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, alongside Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State, at the Nigerian Army Super Camp, Chabal in the Konduga local government area of Borno.
The ceremony also witnessed the launch of civilian JTF, hunters, and vigilantes into the operations of the Nigerian Army Super Camp.
Buratai said the two events were part of activities designed for the final push to end Boko Haram activities in the north-east region.
The army chief said no “child CJTF” will participate in the operation, calling on the public to support the military in fishing out remnants of the insurgents.
Zulum renewed his call on Boko Haram insurgents who hiding in Sambisa forest and bushes in the fringes of Lake Chad to lay down their arms and surrender.
This is the fourth time that the military would roll out lists of “wanted terrorists”.