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by Ignatius Chukwu
last updated Fri, Sep 24, 2021 4:05 PM

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How Not To Treat ‘Repentant’ Terrorists: The Case Of UK’s Shamima Begum

By Ignatius Chukwu |
last updated 16:05 24/09/2021
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A British girl, who willingly joined ISIS in Syria at the age of 15, married an ISIS fighter, had children, lost her husband, and moved to a Syrian refugee camp but now wants to return to the UK as a repentant, has been severally turned down.

 Shamima Begum (now 22) had pleaded for pardon when her last kid was very sick at the camp but was ignored by the UK government. The child died of pneumonia - two of her kids had died before the last one. But the UK kept adamant.

She has even promised to help fight terrorism, but the UK government would hear none of it. The reason? Though Begum acted as an under-18, the system says she has lost British citizenship and that once you join a terror gang, you have joined. No space for return. That is the wisdom of the British!

Shamima Begum

So, if our own country (Nigeria) is fond of playing with fire, fond of sleeping with poisonous snakes as pets just because the snake told you it’s now 'born again', then know that other countries will be afraid of you. They will conclude that you are either ignorant or you are a secret partner to the terrorists.

In February 2020, the Nigerian military released about 1,400 Boko Haram members who claimed to have repented. The military has gone on to release hundreds of others since then. The Nigerian government's soft treatment of repentant terrorists, most of whom are responsible for the death of over 35,000 people in the country's northeast region since 2009, had drawn widespread criticism.

The Nigerian senate is even moving to create a special agency with funds to make life comfortable for so-called repentant terrorists.

Also, following the release of the names of 47 people sponsoring terrorism - including six Nigerians - by the government of the United Arab Emirates over a week ago, the United States government pledged to release the names of all sponsors of Boko Haram.

One would have expected the Nigerian government to be happy about such a pledge and support the release. But no, the government said it was not interested in naming and shaming Boko Haram sponsors. It said it is interested in prosecuting them, yet the government has not convicted one Boko Haram member or sponsor since 2009.

Furthermore, the Military says about 8000 Boko Haram fighters so far have surrendered and are housed in a facility in Borno State where they took newsmen to last week. Fears were high that the so-called repentant terrorists were being recruited into the army until authorities refuted such claims. The army sees the large number of fighters surrendering as a positive development whereas the masses remain apprehensive. 

Reports have come out showing that over 300 sponsors have been let off the hook without evidence of prosecution except 45 that have come in charge sheets but without proper prosecution. These have caused fear about the federal government's ability to deal ruthlessly with sponsors because of their perceived connections to the powers that be.

In the US, despite the abundance of human rights over the years, the US runs some of the most vicious facilities in the world, where they lock away the most daring terrorists and bandits. This is because the US government understands that a terrorist has only one mission: to upturn the system (government) through the most vicious methods such as bombing and mass killing, all to install a strange regime and run their utopian dream in real-time.

The US realized that whoever destroys the system would have destroyed millions of people. So, if the penal codes and other legitimate methods to contain such vandals do not work, they apply unorthodox ways with men that are equally vicious; they go outside the law to deal with outlaws. 

Yes, we are African; we may want to be our brothers’ keepers, but mixing goat and sheep in one pen (enclosure) is dangerous.

The Nigerian government may welcome ‘repentant’ terrorists, but they must be kept at abeyance. They must not be integrated into the security forces. They must not be integrated into the civilian community. But they must be identified, biometrically marked, and sent to live in a marked zone for about one full year. After that, they can downgrade their security status gradually as the years go by.

They should work in large farms owned by them and must be made to prove loyalty in terms of helping to fight terror and supplying intelligence for years before top-level officials can do reviews of individual cases. We must look at why the UK is keeping a huge distance from Begum. It’s just an appeal.

Shamima Begum Boko Haram

About the author

Ignatius Chukwu

Mr Chukwu is a versatile writer and journalist of many decades starting from the Daily Times of old to BusinessDay.


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