The dissemination workshop on 'Justice, reconciliation and healing in north-east Nigeria' was held in Abuja on the 6th of September, 2017. The research was conducted by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) with support from Nigeria Stability & Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), UKaid, British Council, International Alert and Social Development Direct (SDD).
The insurgency in north-east Nigeria as a result of the activities of the militant group, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awatiwal-Jihad (JAS), often referred to as Boko Haram (BH) has claimed about 20,000 lives since 2009. About 3 million people are internally displaced. Over $6m of public funds have been spent on prosecuting counter-terrorism. The cost of recovery and peace-building is put at $6.7b. Besides, an estimated 75% of children are out of school.
The study sought to evaluate the perceptions and views of victims, community dwellers, parents and other key stakeholders on reconciliation and healing, with a view to guiding initiatives towards the rehabilitation of IDPs and sustainable peace in the north-east.
The following were at the workshop:
*Prof. Deji Adekunle, Director-General NIALS
*Dr. Joseph Ochogwu, Conflict Adviser, DFID
*Dr. Ukoha Ukiwo, Programme Manger, NSRP
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Conflict Transformation Expert, Abuja
*Dr. Amina Mohammed, Representative of Minister of Health
*Arc. Issa Halilu, Ministry of National Planning
*Prof. Peter Akper (SAN), Director of Research, NIALS
*Dr. Irekpitan Okukpon, NIALS
*Dr. Oladipupo Ipadeola, Project statistician & analyst
*Senator Shehu Sanni
*Ms. Habiba Makanjuola, Research Manager, NSRP
The following are the research findings:
*A majority of respondents believe that JAS has the greatest blame for the violence and death experienced in Borno and Yobe states. Unconditional forgiveness of the insurgents is not an acceptable option for majority of respondents in the north-east.
*Religion and religious sentiments that promote peace and forgiveness are key factors that have contributed to stabilising the psycho-social balance of victims in the north-east geo-political zone.
*Healing is a welcome prospect for respondents in the north-east, and centres for psycho-social support/medical therapy for victims which are already existing should continue to provide these germane service(s).
*Healing and rehabilitation of victims is key to achieving justice and peace in the north-east. The rehabilitation process should entail skills acquisition for the victims.
*A majority of respondents are resolute in their insistence that justice and accountability, particularly the successful prosecution of apprehended insurgents could help towards healing in the north-east.
*There is scepticism about the sincerity of repentant or de-radicalised insurgents. Respondents caution against amnesty for insurgents.
*The idea of de-radicalising insurgents is not a priority for most of the respondents. The preferrable option is the provision of basic amenities, especially food, water and clothing for IDPs.
*The preponderant view is that JAS insurgency is not fueled by religious ideologies but by fanaticism and poverty. The JAS targets jobless youths and young girls and women between the ages of 18 and 30 years.
*Discussants at the workshop wondered why the role of the Victims Support Fund (VSF) was not given prominence in the report, since VSF is meant to assuage the pain of victims.
The prayer of most participants is that the relevant government agencies and NGOs would critically study the report and implement relevant aspects of same towards sustainable peace in north-east Nigeria.
*UN declares August 22 International Day of Victims of Religious Violence https://punchng.com/breaking-un-declares-aug-22-international-day-of-victims-of-religious-violence/