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Danger of peace deals with Boko Haram

The security situation in Nigeria has reached an alarming level. A few weeks ago, the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram, invaded no fewer than 65 communities and displaced over 5,000 villagers from their ancestral homes in Shiroro and Munya local government areas of Niger State. In the wake of that invasion, the state Governor Abubakar Bello cried out to the Federal Government to come to the aid of his people.

He claimed that long before now, he had met with President Muhammadu Buhari several times to brief him on the security threats to his state and the need for the security forces to take proactive measures. According to Bello, his warnings fell on deaf ears as no meaningful steps were taken to forestall the invasion of the state by these terrorists.

He confirmed on national television that the invaders were Boko Haram elements as evidenced by the hoisting of their flag in the state. Latest reports indicate that thousands of residents of these communities have since taken refuge in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Minna, the capital of Niger State.

The remaining people, now trapped in the communities, have resorted to signing peace deals with the terrorists. We learnt that the communities have paid not less than N20 million to sign the peace deal and have also purchased at least six Honda motorcycles worth N500,000 for the terrorists, to pacify them.

These sad developments sound like tales by moonlight, but unfortunately they are unfolding before us in our dear country. It is appalling and regrettable how bad things have become over the last six years. We recall that President Muhammadu Buhari rode to power in 2015, on the promise that being a retired general, he would tackle the crisis of insecurity in the country headlong.

During his campaign tour to Chatham House, London, Buhari promised Nigerians and the international community that Nigeria will be in safe hands once he takes up the mantle of leadership. It is, however, highly embarrassing that the opposite has become the case and he has literally surrendered our country to terrorists.

In the wake of that invasion, Nigerians had expected our security forces to have moved into the occupied territories, rescued our citizens and flushed out those terrorists. None of these have, however, happened; but rather the citizens were left to their fate while terrorists have had a field day trampling on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.

It is obvious that the socalled peace deals which these poor villagers signed with the terrorists were done under duress. The implication is that these communities have lost hope and faith in the government and security forces of our country.

They have now been forced to embrace nonstate actors and have pledged their loyalty and allegiance to these enemies just to stay alive. In real terms, Nigeria has lost Niger State to Boko Haram because these terrorists are on a mission to conquer territories, drive away or exterminate those they call infidels as well as indoctrinate and enslave the remaining local population. Since the terrorist group launched its violent campaign in Nigeria more than a decade ago, it left no one in doubt about its mission. It is an ideological sectarian war geared towards wiping out western education and Judeo- Christian civilisation in the country.

In the long run, Boko Haram hopes to enthrone a theocratic state built on Islamic fundamentalism and ultimately establish a Caliphate in Nigeria. The current administration cannot continue to pretend that it does not understand the philosophy of Boko Haram and cannot tame it or halt its advancement in the country. With the current inaction and body language of the President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, some Nigerians are now tempted to believe that the violent campaign of the terrorists has the tacit support of our government and security forces.

We do not want to share in that negative perception because of the dangers it poses to national unity, cohesion and peaceful coexistence of the various religious, cultural and ethnic nationalities in the country. We urge the President to wake up from his slumber and activate all the instruments of force at his disposal to dislodge the terrorists occupying territories in Niger State and all other places where the group has been operating under various guises and franchise appellations. The least we expect is a state of emergency and a declaration of a full scale war against Boko Haram and its affiliates.

If the government continues to encourage communities to sign accords with terrorists, it will not be long before we lose the entire country to them. In later years, may it not be written of this administration that those who ought to have stopped the violation of our sovereignty, actually aided and abetted in the crime.

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