Boko Haram militants who committed violent crimes must be brought to book, and not be given amnesty and pardonned, the Institut for Security Studies (ISS) said this week, as violence in this West African oil-rich nation shows no sign of stopping soon.
More than 700 Nigerians have died so far this year in over 80 attacks associated with Boko Haram, ISS said in its weekly report published early this week.
The terrorist group is believed to have killed nearly 4 000 people and injured several thousands more, ISS added.
“What is now needed is a shift in approach to one that favours international criminal justice premised on the rule of law and the accountability of individuals for their crimes,” said Martin Ewi, ISS senior researcher, transnational threats and international crime division.
Pretoria-based Ewi added: “A reliance on investigation, prosecution and punishment that is commensurate with the crime, as stipulated by national legislation, means the criminal justice approach can address the political, social and economic triggers of terrorism.”
Apart from some violent skirmishes of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Boko Haram is perhaps the most real and dangerous movies Nigeria has had to watch with since the Biafran War (6 July 1967–15 January 1970).
But the South Africa-based ISS continues to deplore the way the Nigerian goverment has so far dealt with the Boko Haram virus – excessive violence against excessive violence.
“Historically, government responses to militancy have relied almost entirely on military strategies that have had short-term successes and long-term unintended consequences including fuelling a vicious cycle of violence.
“For example, the killing of Mohammed Marwa, the spiritual leader of the Maitatsine movement, during the 1980 Kano riots resulted in more intense violence and its subsequent spread to other cities, ISS said.
“In the same vein, the intensification of the Boko Haram violence is believed to be a direct consequence of the extrajudicial execution of its leader, Utaz Mohammed Yusuf. In recent times, drastic military responses have triggered even more deadly and catastrophic terrorist attacks.”
Boko Haram is the world-second most deadly terrorist group behind the Taliban of Afganistan, a recent US report said. The White House has since offered to pay a bounty of US$7 million to anyone who comes forward with the information leading to the arrest of its leader Abubakar Shekau.
Nevertheless, ISS has urged the Nigerian government to quickly set up a special criminal court under the recent terrorism proscription order 2013 and the Nigerian Terrorism Prevention Act (2011), to deal with the terrorist group’s atrocities.
Such institution, Ewi said, could have robust powers and the jurisdiction to prosecute any entity or person supporting Boko Haram, including foreign nationals, and work with the security establishment to administer justice to suspected members of Boko Haram.
Photo by Christian Post. Soldiers and civilians check a site bombed by Boko Haram criminals