Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) written to the Senate and its President Ahmad Lawan, to ensure that the bill that would allow ‘repentant Boko Haram terrorists’ enjoy foreign education is immediately dropped.
The body said instead, the lawmakers should sponsor bills that would ensure access to justice and reparation for the victims of Boko Haram.
The bill which has passed the first reading at the Senate would see former terrorists receive foreign education including by accessing funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and subventions from the government.
The bill sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Geideam, representing Yobe East.
In the letter signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said by calling Boko Haram members ‘ex-agitators’, the bill mocks the victims of appalling atrocities committed by the terrorist group.
The body said Boko Haram members should not be allowed to enjoy foreign education while over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are roaming the streets.
“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.
“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, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to challenge the legality of any such law and ensure that it is never implemented”, it noted.
The letter stressed that prioritizing 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”, SERAP added.