Live Stream
Radio Ndarason Internationale


Repentant insurgents are ready and willing to vote in tomorrow’s general elections

24 February 2023
Reading time: 6 minutes

Penitent insurgents, who have been through deradicalisation and rehabilitation processes and are now fully reintegrated into society in Maiduguri and other communities, will be voting tomorrow in Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

Bukar Adam, a leader of a group of repentant insurgents who now lives in Maiduguri, told RNI that he had his permanent voters card (PVC) and was all set to cast his ballot tomorrow.

He, like many surrendered and repentant insurgents, was a member of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), better known as Boko Haram. But he decided to give himself up and return to normal society even though he knew he would have to undergo deradicalisation and rehabilitation processes before he could be reintegrated into the community.

But, he said, that did not stop him and now he is living happily among his family and friends. He said he was excited that he could vote and participate in the democratic general elections.

“Yes, I have my PVC with me right now and I’m ready to vote tomorrow. I encouraged all repentant insurgents to get their voters cards, so that they could participate in the elections, have a say in the future of our country and make their mark tomorrow.

“We have been informing many of the thousands of insurgents who surrendered and laid down their arms and who have been rehabilitated about the importance of Western and Islamic education, as well as the need for them to participate in the elections.

“Before we surrendered, we did not believe in democracy and Western education. In fact we prohibited Western education. Boko Haram means ‘Western education is forbidden’. But now, after debating the issue with various Islamic clerics and scholars, we know that we were on the wrong track.”

Adam said he had three wives and 12 children and he had enrolled all his kids in schools.

“They are studying Western education now,” he said.

“I urge insurgents in the bush who are still actively fighting to lay down their arms, surrender and come home. There are now thousands of repentant insurgents who are living a good life with their families, relatives and friends. They are back in their communities and are living in peace and harmony with their neighbours. I urge other repentant insurgents to give their 100% support to democracy and Western education. It is the only way to rebuild, restore and sustain peace, unity, stability and development.”

Mohammed Mustapha, aka Mallam Abatcha, is also a repentant insurgent living in Maidurguri. He said: “Before, I was an active insurgent but now I have repented and I’m living happily with my family and friends, without any threat of danger. People have accepted me and know that I am repentant. I know what I did in the past was wrong and goes against the teachings of Islam. I have a PVC and I’m more than ready to make my mark in tomorrow’s elections. And it is not only me – there are many repentant insurgents who have voters cards and will be participating in the elections. We have encouraged those who do not have PVCs to get them.

“While I was a fighter, I did not believe in democracy or Western education. It was only when I surrendered, repented and came home that I changed. During rehabilitation and deradicalisation, various Islamic scholars informed us about the true meaning of Islam, which in no way supports the atrocities committed by insurgents. The scholars convinced us [repentant insurgents] to accept Western teachings and the importance of democracy. Now we know that democracy means all people have the right to elect the government of their choice. Democracy, enshrined in the constitution, allows us to vote for any candidate we like.”

Mustapha urged his former insurgent colleagues still fighting in the bush to surrender.

“It’s time to lay down your weapons and come home as we did. Since the death of our leader, Abubakar Shekau, there is no reason to stay in the bush.

“By continuing to stay in the forest and fighting, active insurgents will not have any chance of freedom and will never get the opportunity to progress. But if they surrender and come back home, they will have the right to practise any religion they choose and will enjoy total freedom living among relatives and friends.”

Bulama Abiso, chairman of the Network of Civil Society Organisations in Borno State told RNI that repentant insurgents had every right to vote in the elections, just as every other eligible citizen of Nigeria.

“They have repented and denounced their former ways. Surrendered and repentant insurgents go through stringent deradicalisation and rehabilitation processes, after which they are allowed to return to their communities and are reintegrated into normal society. They can return to living a normal life.

“But, just like any other Nigerian citizen, if they do not have voters cards, they will not be able to participate in tomorrow’s democratic elections. Some time back, we visited Shokari and Hajj insurgents’ camps here in Maiduguri to assess the situation of the repentant fighters. The rehabilitation processes were well under way and the former insurgents were learning new ways to live their lives.

“Members of the Borno State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) asked us if repentant insurgents had the right to participate in democratic elections after what they had done while fighting in the bush. We said they could vote as long as they were rehabilitated and had obtained PVCs.

“It is our conviction that if repentant insurgents are truly rehabilitated, truly sorry and have been reintegrated into society, they are eligible to vote as enshrined in the Nigeria’s constitution.”

  • On May 31, 2021, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, backed by reports by Nigerian officials, stated that Abubakar Shekau, the then leader of JAS, killed himself during a battle with Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents by detonating a suicide vest. There had been reports of his death several times in the past which had proved to be false. However, Shekau’s rival, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, later also stated that Shekau had killed himself.




About the author