Here is the main issue regarding the surrendering of former insurgents is that the deradicalization and rehabilitation process still doesn’t not have strong data showcasing its effectiveness.
The other issue is: it is very expensive to run, especially for a country like Nigeria that is already struggling financially and unable to pay legitimate workers and law-abiding citizens.
De-radicalization programs require adequate funding to effectively run reforms in functioning prisons, monetary support for the families of detainees and follow up after-care programs.
It is an expensive endeavor coupled with the fact that there are no guarantees the program will be effective and that the insurgents will be able to effectively re-integrate into society.
What the government needs to do is to ensure these surrendering insurgents face the law of the land and pay for the crimes they have committed.Image showing repentant Boko Haram terrorists. Img. source: Google images
The Nigerian Army claims they have to obey the international Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and Geneva Convention which governs the actions of international militaries. According to LOAC, when an adversary surrenders, you do not shoot at him or kill him. You take them into protective custody, document them, assess their level of involvement and then prosecute them accordingly. These persecutions can include jail time sentences and even capital punishment as decided by the law.
The government’s first course of action is to ensure that the surrendering insurgents face the law for their crimes. After all, there are laws against killing, bombing, kidnapping, underage marriage, terrorism and others.
The government is worried that if they do not use a softer approach on the terrorists, then they might be incentivized to join rival terrorist groups and gangs which are still operating across ungoverned spaces in Northern Nigeria and beyond.
However, even the terrorists’ groups operating in Nigeria need to be aware that there are consequences for that action as well which is warfare and the resultant deaths.
Let the insurgents face the law. Those who are found guilty must face their punishment. Those who are acquitted can then be put through deradicalization and reintegration programs.
What the government should not do, is reward crimes and criminals.