Vexed by the zero-prosecution of Boko Haram members since coming to office over a year and half ago, a pro-democracy Non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA), has upbraided President Muhammadu Buhari’s undue premium placed on releasing alleged terrorists rather than diligently prosecuting them over crimes against humanity.
HURIWA said it was not opposed to the release from military detention of innocent people but is of the view that whilst innocent detainees are freed and compensated for the violations of their fundamental human rights the Nigerian government must inform Nigerians or allow credible independent groups to access information on the accurate number of Boko Haram terror masterminds currently been detained and also publish a time line within which those terrorists would be brought to justice.
Specifically, HURIWA faulted the procedural flaws and credibility questions trailing the continuous release from detention without prosecution of fighters belonging to the armed Boko Haram accused of the killing of over 26,000 innocent Nigerians and the destruction of property worth several billions over a period of five years. “Why the undue haste to grant amnesty to persons who clearly carried out war against the Nigerian State and indeed bombed thousands of persons out of existence without making effort to prosecute them in the Competent Courts of law?”
In a statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said history will not forgive the current government if it continues to surreptitiously grant blanket amnesty to terrorists captured from war fronts even as there hasn’t been any determined measures on the part of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice to bring the masterminds of the multiple attacks on innocent persons to effective prosecution and penalised severely for these series of crimes against humanity. “These disguised releases in batches of terrorists is unconstitutional and illegal.”
The group has also accused the government of abandoning the victims of this brutal terror attacks to languish in the respective internally displaced persons’ camps just as the Rights group lamented that hundreds of thousands of children are malnourished and no concrete measures have been adopted to ameliorate these harsh existential conditions in the Internally displaced persons’ camps in the North East of Nigeria.
“Hundreds of young girls have been forced into sex slaves just to survive the harsh realities of being abandoned to their cruel fate whilst the Federal government is engaging in the unconstitutional processing and instalmental releases of detained erstwhile fighters belonging to the armed Boko Haram terrorists even when their leadership are still threatening to bring harm and destruction to the undefended civilian populations in the terror ravaged North East of Nigeria. Why is this government setting Boko Haram detainees free about the same time that some North East States are resettling the displaced populations back to their original homes even without rebuilding and Reconstruction of these devastated communities? Have government thought of the possibility of these freed terrorists reaching out to their leadership so as to rearm themselves and to relaunch attacks against civilian populations?”
“What kind of government gives premium to releasing detained terrorists without subjecting them to proper criminal justice system to face penalties for their crime against the innocent? We absolutely condemn this atrocious policy of granting amnesty to terrorists under the guise of amnesty when it is clear these are persons who have blood in their hands. If government claims to have processed them before their release, may we then ask government to transparently communicate to the Nigerian public and inform us accurately how many more of such terrorism detainees are awaiting trial or is this government determined not to bring any terrorists to trial?”
HURIWA recalled that on more than two occasions reports have indicated that some detained Boko Haram insurgents were released by the military even as the Nigerian Army recently reported that it has handed over 348 detainees to the Borno government after they had been cleared of belonging to the Boko Haram group.
The rights group said the claim by the Army that those recently released were found not to be members of the Boko Haram sect must be subjected to independent analyses to determine the veracity or otherwise of it, because if these large group of detainees were in the first place innocent but have been detained for long it then shows that their fundamental human rights have been breached and they are entitled to huge compensation and not been packaged and handed over in a ceremonial way to the governor and for the governor to generously shower praises to the Army for the ‘gesture’. “May we ask, which gesture if the Army is claiming that those freed are innocent of inflicting terrorism on Nigerians”.
HURIWA said there is a well coordinated plot to confuse Nigerians regarding what the government has decided to do with the detained insurgents just as the rights group has tasked government to come clean on this for the sake of the victims of the terror attacks over the past few years in Nigeria.