You will probably have read the news. It is on almost every news channel and the thought that something like that happened, repulsed me. Or, how do you bring yourself to the news that over 600 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram combatants graduated in Gombe?

Yes, you heard me right. People who took up arms against the country, and possibly maim and kill innocent Nigerians and soldiers and destroy properties are now free. Not only that, but they also get to enjoy public resources towards rehabilitation until they are graduated, and most likely, reintegrated into the community.

Isn’t that depressing? The same elements who at a point wrought unimaginable destruction on Nigeria and vowed to disrupt the generally acceptable means of governance to foist a crooked ideology on the people. This is to refresh your memory and give you a clear idea of what just happened.

I’ve tried severally, but I’m yet to find anyone to convince me of what really Boko Haram is fighting for. Boko Haram crept to the consciousness of Nigerians after founder Mohammed Yusuf was murdered in a police cell and the group has gone on to become a monster that breaks down public safety and order in the North-Eastern states.

Through the sustained campaign of violence by Boko Haram in more than a decade, Nigeria has lost more than 30,000 people and over two million people were forced to leave their homes. The picture gets grimmer when the economic cost of Boko Haram terror is put into perspective– money running into several billion if not trillions of naira has been expended to the war.

That is how bad Boko Haram turned on the country and to now see that ‘combatants’ of the sect are being pardoned and reintegrated into the same community they sought to destroy, call to question government resolve to deal with criminals. No excuse can ever be enough to dissuade mounting concerns that come with letting people who took up arms against the country go unpunished, and even worse, be reintegrated into the society.

When criminals begin to realize that there are no consequences for their actions, and particularly, waging a needless war against the country, the looming danger is better not imagined. The ‘we’ll get pardoned’ mentality and tendency to be rehabilitated into the society no matter the extent of crime committed will be a motivation for criminals to surge.

Some people, mostly supporters of the All Progressives Congress-led government, have tried to deflate attention from the wrong impression that the handling of Boko Haram ‘combatants’ has created. Even if those Boko Haram’s combatants’ surrendered as claimed, they should at least serve some form of punishment to deter others from repeating a similar act.

This is not only the right thing to do, it is justice. There are families who lost loved ones to Boko Haram activities and more importantly, our servicemen who died in the quest for restoring peace and order, deserves justice. It is not fair to cut lose those who wittingly or otherwise played a role in their massacre on the mere defense that they surrendered. Why doesn’t armed robber get freed whenever they surrender to the authority?

A terrorist is a terrorist, no matter their excuse, and nothing, not even the borrowed toga of rehabilitation done on them, can wash away their guilt. Of course, we should be looking forward, not backward, but we can’t ignore the ugly sight that people who once bear arms against the country are getting superb treatment and comfortable integration into communities. This will only worsen things and put public safety on the extreme.

And that can be seen from the rejection posed by members of communities, who are not ready to welcome rehabilitated Boko Haram ‘combatants’ into their midst. These are people who have experienced first hand the horror of the murderous sect, and the government should at least, listen to them and address their fears.

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