• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo


Mr. President, amnesty for terror breeds terror


 Ombatse or ‘Time has come’ is the latest terror group on the stage of infamy. At the last count, only 17 of the 93 policemen sent to arrest the chief priest of their shrine in Nassarawa State returned. The rest were slain or critically injured. We gather only one Ombatse died and our police in scores. It’s either they acted on information or, as they may believe, their concoctions worked. You ask, why would they be so callous to murder fellow Nigerians just because they’re in uniform? Why was the police casual about the operation? Why was there no advance surveillance or helicopter over-fly? Is this war?

We are watching how deadly these groups are turning. It was severally pointed out here and elsewhere that appeasement of terror is a dead-end. If Ombatse could take on the police, who knows the next? Will they take on the army? Our style: as Ombatse gets so deadly, elders will prevail on the president to get so understanding and negotiate. First of it will be amnesty – something taking a cancerous dimension, closing on one and opening on two others. What the president fails to understand is the synergy of violence. Boko on one end targeting government and Christians, Ombatse on the other targeting government, both united by a seemingly common enemy to make two stronger than one. At the point violent groups begin to discover common grounds and get together, governance ebbs, violence surges. At that point too, they call the shots and split the country into fiefdoms. Others presently on incubation and sensing government’s helplessness birth to accentuate violence.

When the president was advised to remain firm on Boko, it is this. The deterrent effect of firmness is to defeat overt forces and prevent offshoots. Others tempted to join would think again. Now, it’s amnesty everywhere, more groups forming and getting deadlier with frivolous demands and snubs on government. Would you now tell Ombatse not to grab?

Obasanjo descended on Odi for the killing of 12 policemen. Now, nearly a company of them are murdered, what happens? Jonathan criticised the Odi action as missing the mark. Those killed by government troops, he said, had little or nothing to do with the murder. Now, how does he separate the killers from the crowd when the villagers are feigning ignorance? First, the shrine that supported the murdering of law enforcement agents is a centre of evil against the state and Nigerians and must be destroyed; the adherents who did the act must face force and their chiefs compelled to reveal the source of their power. If you don’t hit them, they’re going to win converts swiftly because going by the casualty figures, they defeated government. And that should not and cannot be. Since these terrains are better known by the perpetrators, using home-grown counter-insurgents who equally know the terrain and heartbeat does something. The religious variant of it is significant. They went about churches and mosques forcing Eggon people to drink a particular concoction prepared from herbs and anyone who failed to comply was beaten up and harassed. If they go by the herbs, the churches and mosques go by the Maker of the herbs and can overcome. This evil is ultimate and must be fought ultimately. It should be clear to government that you don’t negotiate with the devil. All this talk about ‘we’re all Nigerians’ is watery. Evil has no nationality. It is what it is, EVIL, and must be fought like evil. If they’re Nigerians, why are they elated killing their country, its people and constituted authority? Their name is ENEMIES.

This is the government’s opportunity to tell violent groups that the tea party is over. Otherwise good Nigerians would join the violent band to defend themselves or flee the country in droves; deadlier groups will emerge, protracted disenchantment with government will make people begin to demand change of government vociferously. This is why the declaration of a state of emergency in violent states makes sense. It states who’s in charge and gives traumatised citizens hope. It doesn’t mean it’d go unchallenged, but no matter the challenge, state power must prevail. This is what’s expected of a president in power. Most governors sensing loss of power via state of emergency would do more for security. If the president doesn’t adjust his thinking quickly, he’d lose. Thinking ‘we’re all Nigerians’ while others are carving out spheres of influence and plotting his fall can take him down. The singsong about dialogue is ignorant. Dialogue is a product of time. You don’t dialogue when the ears are blocked; you first



Onyegbule, PhD, is the Consultant-in-Chief of Conflict Out- Peace In Consult.)

[email protected]


Send reactions to:

[email protected]/en