By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, has insisted that members of Boko Haram who have surrendered should not be profiled, interrogated and those with blood in their hands must be prosecuted.
Ndume (Borno South), spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
The former Senate Leader said the former insurgents, especially those that have blood in their hands, cannot be let go just because they have surrendered.
According to him, even though there may be innocent persons among them, some of who may have been used as slaves and human shields, they must all be processed according to national and international laws.
He maintained that since they have surrendered, they cannot be summarily executed just as no one has the right to let them go without following due process of the law.
Asked about his position on reintegrating the former insurgents into the Borno society, Ndume said: “My stance on this has not changed, only that maybe people interpret it the way they want. There is a national law that should guide all these and there’s international law that guides this because this is not the first time we’re having this sort of challenge in various countries.
“Normally, when you get to war level, you are expected to either defeat the enemy, or the enemy surrenders. Once the enemy surrenders, you lose the right of summarily executing him because he is an enemy.
“You also don’t have the right to summarily declare him innocent and say, ‘Oh, you have sinned, go and sin no more’.
“What I’m saying initially, and I still maintain this position, in as much as we welcome the surrendering of the Boko Haram, it is very important that we follow due process, according to the law of the land and the international law.
“That is to say, take them in, profile them, process them, investigate them, interrogate them and then those that are innocent should be let go, and those that have blood in their hands, they should be appropriately prosecuted.
“Once the person surrenders, now, he has an advantage. Once you surrender, you cannot just be summarily convicted, you will be given the right to go to court and declare your innocence or otherwise. That is what I’m asking for.
“I’m also saying that as long as the war is continuing, it is now time to apply the carrot and stick approach. While we are prosecuting the war rigorously, in order to bring it to an end, a window is there available to tell those that are willing to surrender, that you can surrender and then you will be processed accordingly.
“After that defeat or after the war has come to an end and the window is there for them to surrender as they are surrendering in droves now, they should be processed, they should be investigated”.
“We have sat down in Borno State last week, as stakeholders, to look at what are the suggestions or what are the ways that these people can, after surrendering, be managed according to the law.”
Ndume pointed out that following the resolutions reached by the Borno State stakeholders meeting, the Federal Government will soon come out with a definite position on the best way to manage the issue of the surrendered insurgents.