Amnesty for Boko Haram members
Lessons from the amnesty programme for militants in the Niger Delta region
The Boko Haram insurgent group terrorised Nigeria for a decade spanning 2009 to 2019. While the group’s terrorist activities have dwindled since 2014/2015 as a result of successes by Nigerian military forces, talk of granting amnesty similar to that granted militants in the Niger Delta region has grown and is likely to happen soon. This paper aims to draw lessons from experiences of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) implemented in the Niger Delta region in 2009. Taking its cue from PAP, the paper recommends that reintegration of the ex-combatants should be given priority over disarmament and demobilisation in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process. Furthermore, incentivising Boko Haram members with pecuniary motivation to accept the amnesty offer should be avoided – as should any other excessive overtures to combatants rather than the civilians who have fallen victim to their attacks. Above all, the root causes and context of the insurgency in North-East Nigeria must also be addressed. Unless the government address these root causes, efforts to bring peace to the North-East will only amount to a cosmetic solution.