The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has clarified that the forgiveness gesture been extended to repentant Boko Haram fighters across the country was in line with international best practices and that such decision had not been taken to pamper the former murderous sect fighters.
The minister said that it was unfortunate and inconceivable that some Nigerians would be going about with fake news that the surrendered insurgent would be engaged into the military.
Mohammed added that the call for the prosecution and killing of the repentant militants rather than granting them amnesty was against global best practices.
According to him, I personally spoke to the military authority before I left Nigeria and they said what they were doing is what the global practice dictates about soldiers that surrendered that should be treated as prisoners of war.
“You cannot just shoot them because there are international conventions that give rights also to prisoners of war. What the military is doing is that, when they surrender, they profile them to ensure that they are genuine and reintegrate them into the society,’’ the minister said while briefing journalists on Friday in Washington.
He further admonished fifth columnists and those he described as naysayers to stop spewing negative and false narratives around Boko Haram members who are surrendering in droves in the North-East.
The minister berated those who he claimed were alleging that the surrendered insurgents were not actual Boko Haram fighters and if they were, they should be shot rather than granted amnesty.
He also described as “false and demoralising’’ the claim in certain quarters that the surrendered insurgents would be recruited into the Nigerian military
Mohammed said rather than changing the narratives, President Muhammadu Buhari and the military should be respectfully commended for their resourcefulness and doggedness respectively in the fight against insurgency.
“The fact that we are witnessing insurgents submitting in droves calls for the commendation of our military for their doggedness. We must not forget that two months ago, Nigerians were putting pressure on the President to recruit mercenaries to fight the war against terror because they said we were losing the war.
“The President, however, remained focused and confident in his belief in the Nigerian military that they have what it takes to defeat the insurgents. We thank God that Mr President today has been proven right.
“We were able to achieve this, largely because of the leadership of Mr President in providing the wherewithal continually to the military and ensuring that their fighting morale is sustained by way of welfare packages,’’ he said.
Mohammed also said that the situation in Afghanistan was not the same as in Nigeria because there was no time in the Nigerian that the military had engaged repentant militants.
For those yet to surrendered, the minister said that the military would not rest on its oars but continue to pursue the Boko Haram and ISWAP members until they could no longer be harmful to Nigerians.
It would be recalled that no fewer than 1,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have handed themselves over to army units in recent weeks in the southern Borno towns of Konduga, Bama, and Mafa.