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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Expert flays indiscriminate release of 760 Boko Haram suspects

President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr. Ona Ekhomu has flayed the recent release of 760 Boko Haram suspects, advising the Federal Government (FG) to exercise extreme caution in the mass release of captured Boko Haram fighters, reports ITRealms.

Ekhomu also said the caution has become necessary for the protection of society from incessant terrorist attacks by ‘inadvertently recycling insurgents into the battlefield’.

Reacting to the recent mass release of 760 Boko Haram suspects by the Joint Intelligence Center of Operation Lafiya Dole, Ekhomu said in a press statement made available to ITRealms that such a release of suspected insurgents should be based upon concrete evidence of repentance and conversion to true Islam which extols peace.

“There must be ample evidence of deradicalization” he warned, describing the release of 760 suspects as rather hasty and ill-advised which tends to worsen the threatscape of the region.

Ekhomu insisted that “The mass release of suspects without rigorous investigation of each suspect would tend to worsen an already fragile security eco-system. The JIC is an intelligence authority and not an investigative agency.”

He pointed out that the Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Provost would have been better placed to conduct these inquiries and make recommendations to the political executive for a final decision” he averred.

Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in Nigeria said that in 2017 a total of 2,603 Boko Haram suspects have been released. Stressing that prior to the latest mass release, the activities of the previously released detainees should have been documented and analyzed to determine the performance of the mass release programme.

“Without such a protocol, then the insurgent release programme would appear to be opaque and arbitrary,” he decried.

Equally, the security analyst called upon the Federal Government to adequately fund the security programmes in the northeast, maintaining that frequent mass release of suspects is based upon the fact that the military authorities are not equipped to indefinitely detain prisoners of war.

“Turning the suspects over to the Borno State government appears to be a way to transfer responsibility away from the military,” he said,

Ehkomu elucidated that “ironically, it’s a nation that fights a war and not its military alone. In other words, other agencies are supposed to play their roles – the Police, the Prosecutors, the Judiciary and the Prisons. It is the general failing of these other agencies of state that is over-burdening the military and resulting in these questionable mass release programs that may have the unintended consequence of prolonging the war in the northeast.”

According to Dr. Ekhomu, the Boko Haram conflict is classified as a 4th generation warfare, thus its an asymmetric warfare, which Boko Haram’s operational strategy is appropriate messaging to different publics and use of lethal tactics. Captured Boko Haram fighters will quickly assure their captors that they have experienced ideological rebirth as a survival mechanism, even when such assertion is untrue. However, these fighters are free to resume attacks after being handed over to the poorly-resourced Borno State government.

He urged the Federal Government to be acutely aware of the paradigm shift in warfare and formulate prisoner release decisions based upon the realities of 4th generation warfare, adding that “When a suicide bomber blows himself or herself up in a mosque, it is a win for the insurgents.”

Ekhomu praised the Nigerian military for its bravery and brilliance in battle. However, he lamented that the military was being over-stretched by different internal security threats, and there was no need to prolong the Boko Haram conflict longer than necessary by making faulty decisions.


He called for the building of high security prison facilities in Borno State where suspects can be held for longer periods of time and be exposed to psychologists and moderate imams who can work on their conversion to mainstream Islam prior to their release. 

He said that the decision to release terrorism suspects must be made after careful psychological testing and evaluation by credentialed professionals. 

“That should form the basis for the decision to reintegrate each fighter into civil society. He said that the Borno State Government does not have the capacity to carry out the intricate assessment and evaluation of deradicalization and ideological reorientation of each Boko Haram fighter handed over to them,” he cautioned.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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