DEALING WITH THE PAST: JUSTICE, RECONCILIATION AND HEALING IN THE NORTH EAST NIGERIA 2017

This Study sought to evaluate 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 displaced persons and sustainable peace in the North east. The research was situated in the two North Eastern States of Yobe and Borno. It was financed by the Nigerian Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) and carried out by the Nigerian institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS). This report is based on data gathered in February March and April 2017 by administering questionnaires to a cross section of respondents including internally displaced persons (IDPs), parents community leaders, security personnel, and policy makers. 50% of the questionnaires in each state were administered on female respondents. Data was also collated through a total of 6 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and 3 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in each state. The study looked at all-inclusive measures that can be adopted to stimulate peace, reconciliation and stability; and examines how implementation can be conducted in an inclusive manner, including addressing the needs of women, children, people living with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. This research also sought to identify potential strategies and programmes that could contribute to the achievement of enduring peace in the Northeast.

THE KEY FINDINGS OF THE RESEARCH ARE:

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 stabilizing the psychosocial balance of victims in the North East geopolitical zone;

Healing is a welcome prospect for respondents in the North East, and centres for psychosocial support and medical therapy for victim which are already in existence are a continued necessity;

Healing and rehabilitation of victims is key to achieving justice and peace in the North East. Respondents believed that while healing could be best achieved through establishment of therapy and psychosocial centres, the rehabilitative process can be best done by providing means of livelihood and skills for the victims;

A majority of respondents are resolute in their insistence on justice and accountability, particularly the successful prosecution of apprehended insurgents and criminal punishment of apprehended or repentant JAS insurgents as critical to the drive towards justice, healing and reconciliation;

A majority of respondents expressed skepticism about the sincerity of repentant or de-radicalized insurgents. They caution against amnesty for any insurgent and advise caution in efforts to rehabilitate apprehended JAS members in their former communities. Indeed the victims of the JAS insurgency are averse towards living in the same community as repentant JAS insurgents with many still nursing thoughts of revenge towards the JAS;

The idea of de-radicalizing insurgents is not a priority for most of the respondents as the preferable option is increased provision of basic amenities, particularly food, water and clothing in IDP camps.

The preponderant view is that the JAS insurgency is not fueled by religious ideologies but by fanaticism and poverty. The JAS targets jobless youths and young girls/women between the ages of 18 and 30 years. Several discussants also believed that the crisis had historical roots and that this belief and religion contributed to a sense of resignation and submission to the events as destined to happen

Any effort aimed at enduring peace, reconciliation and stability must in addition to these socio-cultural factors consider the role and respective concerns of various strategic actors, and the very diverse needs of victims

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