By Abu Duniya
The Global Amnesty Watch (GAW) has posited that Boko Haram terrorist group and other outlawed or proscribed groups in the country, have in the last three years of the war against terror, learnt that Nigeria is not a country without a capable army.
The organization made the disclosure even as it regretted that the approach in fighting the war on terrorism was still being seen as a war between the security forces and the terrorists rather than a war between Nigeria and terrorism.
Country Director, Global Amnesty Watch in Nigeria, Prof. Shuaibu Ahmed Danfulani while speaking at the International Human Rights Conference on Local Armed Conflicts in Nigeria held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on the theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Response to the Global Security Threats and Its Implications for World Peace,” also called for a home grown Nigerian approach to tackling the war on terror as has been seen in the cases of France, Britain and Russia noting that as long as rules of engagement are observed this approach should see the light of day
Prof. Danfulani said, “It is now a given that some things around how Nigeria responded to Boko Haram and other proscribed or outlawed groups changed about three years ago, which I believe is the basis for which this conference is concerning itself with assessing only those three years that terrorists were made to realize that Nigeria is a country, and one with a standing and capable Army.
“The terrorists have since learnt that this is not a no man’s land where they can brag about holding territory. That repulsive ambition died once Generals who know what they are doing stepped to the plate.
“The euphoria of the successes recorded in the war against terrorism notwithstanding, and without prejudice to the costly sacrifices being made by members of the Armed Forces, we must in our intervention today be bold to rankle moods and step on toes.
“Whatever is found wanting must be identified and proclaimed so, as that is the only way for the country to be able to take steps that will rid it of the last vestige of terrorism.
Things that Nigeria should have done differently.
“That is the overall approach to the war on terrorism. Please note, this is not to say a lot has not been achieved but it is rather to point out that much more could have been achieved and attained faster than we did.
“What I find to be missing in this regard is a failure to evolve a fully Nigerian approach to dealing with a global problem that mutated a Nigerian strain; for that is what Boko haram is.
“Take a quick study of France – the number of terror attacks it has had in the past ten years and the number of arrests it has made in those instances.
“What you will find is that a higher number of the terrorists that carry out attacks in France do not live to wear handcuffs neither do they ride police patrol cars, their corpses usually make the trip from their stand-off with law enforcement to the city morgue because they always invariably end up dead.
“The latest attacker was a mere 16 days ago and that was the fate that befell him even though his weapon of choice was what some would refer to a mere knife. So, the terrorists know France is not a playground for their twisted ideology.
“Former French colonies in Africa – take note of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger – have adopted a similar approach and terrorists know not to go fooling around in these places.
“Russia has even lesser tolerance and a thinner finesse to dealing with terrorists. Russian President Vladimir Putin quoted in a Brooking Institute article that made reference to a 2000 interview for his biography said of his brutal suppression of terrorists in Chechnya, “If we did not quickly do something to stop it, Russia as a state in its current form would cease to exist…. I was convinced that if we did not immediately stop the extremists [in Chechnya], then in no time at all we would be facing a second Yugoslavia across the entire territory of the Russian Federation — the Yugoslavization of Russia.
“Putin also does not want Chechnya that has fought alongside ISIS terrorists in the Middle East to export terrorism back to Russia; it is a cheaper and more effective approach, to deal with the problem before it arises.
“Britain is arresting, trying and jailing its nationals that have gone to Syria to support ISIS. In fact, even contemplating or planning to travel to join ISIS is a crime for which some convicts are serving time.
“United Kingdom Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson asserted that Britons who have fought for ISIS should be hunted down and killed to ensure they never return to their country.
“Perhaps, British that fought on the side of ISIS are fortunate to only be imprisoned for their crimes; an American citizenship could have guaranteed them death right in the Middle East by Hellfire missiles fired from Predator drones simply to ensure they do not live to return home with their terrorists’ ideology and build terror networks in their homelands.
“Incidentally, these are all countries that some of us have been brainwashed to regard as the benchmark for strict adherence to human rights.
“Yes, they adhere to human rights and follow rules of engagement but they always make sure that the collective interest is above those of individuals that have gone rouge.
“For these countries, it appears failure to remove threats to the larger population is what constitutes violation of human rights. Their governments and military see themselves as being responsible to the civilian population that would be harmed if terrorists should successfully hijack their countries.
The media and civil society in the aforementioned countries in their reactions do grumble, they may criticize but they in the end join in managing the situation so that their people see the common and greater good in the steps taken to curtail terrorism.
“At no time have international human rights organizations been able to hound them or their militaries. If anything, reports that have recriminating titles, have texts that praise the valour of the troops that kill menacing terrorists.
“We should by now be asking ourselves what the Nigeria model is. What is the Nigeria model? The reality is that there is no Nigerian model in the true sense of things. What we have instead has been a Nigerian Army that has been excelling in the face of impossibilities.
“The same human rights activists and international NGOs that see nothing wrong in the way these other countries keep themselves safe expect Nigerian troops to approach terrorists with gift offerings so that they can be talked into giving up their evil ways.
“Once troops kill terrorists, it would become a matter of human rights violation and threat of being dragged to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“I invite you to note again that the military from France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States are not threatened with ICC when they kill terrorists, instead they get medals. So, the question is why is Nigeria different?
“At a different forum, people told me it is because they want Nigeria to fail. But even this answer only provoked more questions. If you were to give me the same answer I will then ask: why do they want Nigeria to fail or collapse?
“Other questions are: who are these people that want Nigeria to fail? How do they plan to make Nigeria to fail? What have they done so far to set Nigeria on the path of failing? Who are they using to make Nigeria to fail? Who benefits if Nigeria should fail? What is Nigeria doing to prevent itself from failing?
Whatever answers we get to these questions, they will point to the centrality of the Nigerian military, notably the Nigerian Army as the institution to counter these threats.
The Armed Forces cannot safeguard the country against conspiracies of such magnitude if it has to adopt a different set of rules to the ones other Armies use to protect their country.
The Army cannot be fighting Boko Haram only for agents of countries that do not allow terrorists breathing space to dictate what must not happen to known terrorists.
I hope this conference to review the conditions under which the Nigerian Military achieved its successes over Boko Haram with a view to making suggestions that will empower military personnel to do even better.
You should identify groups that are being used to undermine the military’seffort to eradicate Boko Haram and make useful suggestions on how to manage such organizations.
My hope is that you will be able to come up with a template that will help the Nigerian military develop its own approach to dealing with terrorists in a manner that ensures that the safety of Nigeria is not jeopardized.
In his address, David Falt, Global President, Global Amnesty Watch, a Swiss National, decried terrorism and its destructive impact of human lives and property as well as displacements of the citizenry saying, “Terrorism creates victims, victims deserve justice and justice delayed is justice denied”.
He said Nigeria as a nation should concentrate on and develop what units it in a terror war rather than engage in advocacy battle using transparency international and other bodies to scuttle the march towards eradicating the menace of terror.
“The military should help the police and the police should help the government in ensuring that the terror war is won. But simple rules of engagement should be observed on the battle ground by the security forces and they can then get out.”