Recent incidents in the Security Power House of the anti-terrorism campaigns in Nigeria galvanized my interest. The Department of State Security Service (DSS) arrested some five Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in obscure Benue state and the FCT, Abuja end of last month, while plotting atrocities. The recurrent arrests of fleeing remnants of terrorists in different parts of the country have persisted for months, since soldiers collapsed Sambisa forest in Borno state, Northeast Nigeria.
It is unmistakable, the DSS operations leading to the earlier and latest arrests abundantly proclaims and begs for a shift focus in the anti-terrorism war. Terror war now should transcend the boundaries of military bombs and guns. Terrorists are a scattered camp now and this is the pertinence conveyed to all of us by these arrests. It leans on the timely sensitization of Nigerians of the necessity to blend the gulf between artillery gunfire and the adoption of the olive branch as an alternative means of finally ending terrorism.
No Nigerian has a modicum of doubt about the defeat of terrorism in Nigeria by the Nigerian troops. The world is aware of this unalterable reality, with respected world leaders and institutions paying the rare accolades to the Nigerian Government and troops.
But as I have always maintained, terrorism battles manifest in varying nuances. The first approach of battlefield confrontations as done by the Nigerian Army is necessary to decapitate and defeat them, to minimize the scale of their exhibition of violent, blood-thirsty instincts, manifest in the mass murders of innocent people. Boko Haram terrorists and their agents have also engaged the Nigerian state in cyberspace terrorism in the past, but defeated too.
Luckily for us, an astute soldier and helmsman of the counter-insurgency war and Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai detected all the dimensions of the terrorism war on Nigeria, which initially required aggressive combativeness and tackled them effectively. Now the anti-terrorism war has migrated to a different level.
We know the remnants of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists have infused into the larger society and have been arrested scores of times by security agents in Abuja and Lagos. Security intelligence reports disclose that these terrorists operating under cover are spreading tentacles in their secrecy, more out of fear, than bravery, in parts of Nigeria. And when an opportunity renders itself, they strike a bomb or are caught in the act by our vigilant security forces.
And what interests me more is listening to the confessions of these fleeing terrorists, who are arrested by security agents. In the tone of their voices, confessions and physique, they admit in lucid terms of how they were lured, charmed and influenced by all manner of inordinate things to unconsciously enlist in the terrorism war of the Boko Haram sect.
To put it bluntly, stitches of recent investigations on some captured terrorists commanders disclose in unambiguous terms that they are still engaged in an involuntary fight and that much as they love to surrender earlier before their capture, the fear of the Army and what happens if they dare to surrender extinguished the desire to relinquish the devious act. The few survivors speak of weakness in spirit, body and soul to continue with terrorism.
And some are still out in secret hideouts, plotting this evil on their fatherland, but ready to surrender, if the appropriate platform is raised. Obviously, having stayed too long in the trenches, the veil has been cleared off their eyes. They were hoodwinked and misled by soulless terrorists-colleagues and ex-commanders, who lured them into this ignominious path of life, but who have either been killed in the battlefield or are on the run themselves.
But I don’t think it is entirely correct to allow this scenario to persist. The civil populace in Nigeria, the Nigerian Army and the DSS can evolve more strategies to woo into willful surrender the few terrorists still in the trenches/hideouts. At the peak of the battlefield encounters, scores of them surrendered and I feel, with the defeat of terrorism now, the template has been clearly more defined for them to turn-in themselves, if genuinely persuaded.
We must not forget the simple human psychology that no man fights a losing battle and that is the position and status of the residues of Boko Haram insurgents. And they are aware of this immutable reality. It is everybody’s duty to unload this psychological burden, fears and inhibitions preventing these terrorists from walking the noble and dignified path of self-surrender. We must deliberately cause it happen and it is neither a difficult nor an expensive task.
It is my ultimate conviction, like millions of other Nigerians that having defeated terrorism, President Buhari’s body language shows his interest in the life of these careless Nigerians who were ignorantly deceived into these fake Islamic ideologies. Moreso, as most of them were compelled and forced into bloodletting as terrorism based on voodoo powers beyond their comprehension and control.
As Nigerians, I am sure, we shall be doing the bidding of true religion and gladden the heart of God Almighty, if we do not only unconditionally allow terrorists ready to repent of their old ways to do so freely, but also erect a platform that would assure them of their unencumbered liberty when they eventually succumb as expected.
To this end, I did like to suggest some working panaceas or tips that might be useful. The Nigerian Secret Police in alliance with the Nigerian Army should work out a strategic action plan, imbued with credible witnesses and trusted facilitators to assist in anchoring the new deal of seeing to the surrender of these tired terrorists commanders and renunciation of their awkward and evil ideologies. The package should also necessarily include granting an unpretentious and sincere amnesty to these repented terrorists and adherence to it.
The civil populace in Nigeria, especially civil society organizations and human rights bodies should also step up sensitization campaigns to convince the remnants of terrorists about the sincerity of government to accord them unconditional liberty when they surrender. In fact, it behooves on every Nigerian and lover of peace, to become the self-appointed crusader of this cause.
We have reached a stage in the anti-terrorism war, where I feel these soft and non-combative means of tackling the vestiges of terrorism is more lucrative and would help us better as a people and a nation. It is germane for us as a people to finally end the war against terrorism without dust and the fury of the sounds of guns by disconnecting them from their sources of nourishments in terrorism.
And the best time to deploy these strategies is now that Boko Haram camp is in disarray. It will be foolhardy for us to allow this opportunity slip off our hands and thus, create the room for these terrorists, out of desperation, to again strike new alliances with evil souls who intend to use them for mischief ends. It will expose our amazing internal strength in overcoming our worse moments in life. Time to finally end terrorism without the force of bombs and guns is now. We should wake up from the slumber and act accordingly.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.