FG Can Negotiate If National Interest Won’t Be Harmed –Akhimien | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Cover Choice, POLITICS

FG Can Negotiate If National Interest Won’t Be Harmed –Akhimien

Posted: Aug 2, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

President of the Society of Security Practitioners of Nigeria (SSPN), Richardson Akhimien, and the former Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, now security consultant, Onwa Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba, speak with WILLIAM IGENEGBAI on the Federal Government’s plan to negotiate with Boko Haram insurgents.

Do you support the Federal Government’s plan to negotiate with Boko Haram insurgents on the release of the Chibok Girls?

In the first place, I don’t know if the Federal Government has a policy. The treatment of terrorists, as a matter of policy, just like the policy of the United States of America, is that you don’t negotiate with terrorists. However, some situations may necessitate the circumvention of such a policy. In our case, in the last six years we have been fighting this insurgency called Boko Haram. We have lost over 200 and something women and girls as a result of Boko Haram activities. The parents are grieving, the nation is grieving and we have not been able to find them for over a year now. If there is anything that can be traded for the lives of these girls I think that that kind of mechanism can be put in place. If it is negotiation, let there be negotiation, as long as it does not impinge negatively on the collective interest of the Nigerian people and the Nigerian nation. Even the United States had to negotiate for the release of one of its soldiers that was held in Qatar. So, as I said it depends on the gravity and grievance of the situation.

But the issue now remains, who are we negotiating with?  These people have been faceless, and there is no single person that has come out to say he is the leader of Boko Haram. Secondly, what is their cause? So, for every negotiation, there must be the question; what are you taking away and what is the belligerent taking away? So, if their cause is known and if entering into negotiation does not jeopardise or compromise the collective interest of the people and the nation, then the Federal Government can go ahead and negotiate because we have suffered enough from the activities of these people.

But some people believe that there should be no negotiation and that the insurgents should be fought until they are crushed.  Do you think this is possible, considering their present mode of operation where they are no longer stationed in one place?

What is happening now is that they are doing what they call guerrilla warfare, and when it comes to guerrilla warfare, it is very difficult for regular forces to fight. Experience in places where guerrilla warfare has taken place shows that it is always a protracted war. One of the features of this type of war is that they just target opportunity targets (soft targets). Second, they do not have the conventional style of engagement; they do not conform to international standards for war or standard of engagement. And when it comes to that you find that you continue to become vulnerable; and critical infrastructure is always their target. With these, they slow down the activities of government and create fears in the citizens. So, if these people can identify their leaders and bring them to the negotiating table I think the Federal Government can go ahead and negotiate with them but this must not be allowed to impinge on the collective interest of the nation and the people. On the military aspect, it is difficult to militarily crush terrorist organisations because of the nature of their organisation and their operation because it is not a regular army or force. So, the government at this point should begin to look at other options in fighting this insurgency as a different kind of warfare. The government must be ready to carry out massive expenditure on intelligence measures that will enable military to penetrate and infiltrate the insurgents. Two, the government should embark massive expenditure on security education of the masses; adopt street policing especially on the fringes, the Nigerian borders in the North east. The government should put in money into those places by way of social development so that the people will be motivated to be ready to volunteer information on the terrorists.