The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Senate President Ahmad Lawan to drop a bill seeking to give “repentant” Boko Haram members foreign education.
The organisation advised the Senate president to rather use his office to “sponsor bills that would ensure access to justice and reparation for the victims of Boko Haram terrorist group.”
According to the group, the bill to give repentant terrorists foreign education, which has already passed first reading at the Senate, “erodes justice and makes a mockery of the suffering of victims, and the unspeakable human tragedy, humanitarian crisis and appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group.”
SERAP asked the Senate should initiate four separate bills to ensure: “adequate reparations for victims of Boko Haram atrocities; the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those much in need; access to free, inclusive and quality education to Nigerian children from socially and economically disadvantaged sectors of the population. Any such bill should remove school fees and charges to ensure all students can access school equally, and target financial support for girls at risk of dropping out through girls’ education strategies; and, accelerate effective prosecution of alleged repentant Boko Haram members and other members.”
SERAP made this known in an open letter to the Senate president at the weekend. The letter, dated 28 February 2020, was signed by SERAP’s deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.
In the letter, the organisation warned that it will take appropriate “legal actions nationally and internationally to challenge the legality of any such law should the Senate go ahead to pass the bill, and should the bill be supported by the House of Representatives and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Boko Haram members should not be allowed to enjoy foreign education while over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are roaming our streets. Alleged perpetrators of gross violations should not get the benefits at the expense of these and other deserving children. Rather than allowing perpetrators to access public funds to enjoy foreign education, the Senate should be promoting reparation for victims, to prevent future criminality and ensure the best interest of justice. Calling the Boko Haram fighters, ‘ex-agitators’ makes mockery of the atrocities committed by the terrorist group, and is a blatant affront to victims’ dignity. Repentant Boko Haram terrorists are not ‘ex-agitators’; they are terrorists under Nigerian and international laws,” SERAP stated.
The letter further states:
“Prioritising the education of Boko Haram members over the rights of Nigerian children to quality education is discriminatory, as it violates Nigerian constitutional provisions, international and regional human rights obligations, and will undermine national development.
“This bill serves neither justice nor the public interest. The bill also does not represent value for money for Nigerian taxpayers, especially coming from an institution whose individual member reportedly takes home about N182 million yearly, translating to N15.1 million monthly or N45.3 million quarterly.
“Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in many parts of the country are in shambles, with people lacking access to basic necessities like food, clothing and children of victims lacking access to basic education.
“Without justice, the seeds of future criminality and militant terrorism will grow. This bill, if passed, would only lead to more terrorism and suffering.”