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OPINION

‘Military’ Dismemberment of Boko Haram Captives

By Dr Aliyu Tilde

I could not finish watching the video an hour ago. It was so repulsive.

A Boko Haram (BH) member was arrested by some uniformed personnel with hands tied to his back and laid on bare ground.

Then a man in uniform started breaking his body parts as if he was butchering a dead cow in an abbatoir. When the BH member screamed another with a Nigerian Hausa accent said in Hausa, “That is what you do to others.” I could not continue.

Though we will remain forever in support of our security personnel and volunteer groups in their fight against BH, bandits, kidnappers and criminals generally, we must be bold enough to alert that acts like this are violations of the law. In addition they are inhuman, disgusting, dangerous to the soldiers and their society.

The law

The law, not BH conduct, must be the standard of any Nigerian and moreso with the military and law enforcement agents. If the unifomed men in the video are actually soldiers, we must remind them that the rules of engagement are what separate our military from BH. That distinction must be kept – not eroded – under any pretext and condition.

If an enemy is arrested by anyone – military police or others – he deserves a humane treatment, not one that is even not worthy of animals. He is interrogated for understanding his true status and for collection of vital intelligence. Then he is placed under detention in a facility that guarantees his life and welfare until he stands trial. Extrajudicial killings are not manifestations of a civilized lot. Law is what is civilization; civilization is law – the rest is jungle. Simple.

Consequences

There are doubts raised by some people here that the captors on the video are not soldiers. Whoever ot is, The consquences of this action will be far-reaching but the most obvious ones are two.

One. It will backfire. I have never seen a video in which BH gave any of their captives – military or civilian – a similar treatment. We have seen how they kill, mostly by bullet and by slaughter in the early days of the conflict. Now with this video, BH will start dismembering their victims before shooting them. They operate by the law of retribution. An eye for an eye. This singular act will bring a lot pain to many soldiers – and likely civilians too – before their death. It was short-sighted. Let us grant that BH has been doing same. My point still remains. The law, not BH, should guard our behaviour.

Two. The video, like that of the old man with the donkey, is an evidence of a war crime and will cast ugly picture the Nigerian military (who might not have committed the crime but are in charge of the war zone) in the eyes of their colleagues abroad. The loathsome human right portrait of the country will become darker. How can we easily procure arms from democraric societies or stand as equals with them given this granite evidence of babarity?

Plea

A lot can be said on the war crime committed in that video. Let us stop here by pleading with all involved in the fight against Boko Haram to show restraint and abide by their rules of engagement. Let the world see the difference between them and BH.

I will also plead with the relevant authorities to investigate the incident and bring the people involved to book. Only that will exempt the institution they represent and the country generally from this horrific violation that must never be repeated.

Finally, I will plead with any God-fearing person not to circulate that video any further. Sharing it will only aggravate the consequences of the repulsive act and bring a lasting pain to the heart of anyone that possesses a grain of humanity. Please don’t!

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
25 April 2019

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