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Boko Haram: Buhari Commends Jonathan on Amnesty Committee

News » Politics

Image: Former military Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)



•C'ttee's report will soon be made public, says Maku   

•Seven killed in Borno as Babangida Aliyu declares security is improving  

•Igbo group opposes clemency for Islamic sect

By Muhammad Bello, Aisha Wakaso, Sheriff Balogun and Mohammed Aminu

Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Wednesday threw his weight behind the federal government's consideration of clemency for Boko Haram, and lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for the establishment of the amnesty committee.

This is just as the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said that the federal government was still working on the proposal to grant amnesty to the Islamic sect, and will provide information to Nigerians in a timely fashion as events unfold.

Maku said this Wednesday in response to a question while he was briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Buhari, who was in Abeokuta, Ogun State after condoling with Mrs. HID Awolowo in Ikenne on the death of her son, the late Wole Awolowo, said: “It is good that they have set up a committee on amnesty. I have not seen the terms of reference but it is a right step in the right direction." 

He added: "This is not the first time amnesty would be given to a violent group. You remember it happened in the time of Yar’Adua when he gave amnesty to the militant groups (in the Niger Delta)."

Buhari said: "Whatever it takes to bring peace as a society, we should do it."

Buhari was accompanied on the visit by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Masari; National Chairman, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Chief Tony Momoh; and Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare.

Buhari’s statement coincided with the declaration by the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, that the security situation in parts of the north had improved in the recent past.

Despite the governor's declaration, more casualties were recorded in Borno State when seven officials of the state government were on Tuesday evening shot dead in Dikwa and Bama towns by gunmen believed to be members of the notorious Boko Haram sect.

Maku, who was flanked by his counterparts in the Education as well as Women Affairs and Social Development Ministries, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i and Hajiya Zainab Maina, however, did not elaborate on the workings of the Amnesty Committee on Boko Haram, but simply said: “You will be briefed as their work progresses.”

Last week, Jonathan had set up the amnesty committee after the National Security Council (NSC) meeting preceded by a parley he had hours earlier with the Northern Elders' Forum (NEF).

The NEF had impressed it on Jonathan the need for the federal government to grant clemency to the insurgents who have killed close to 4,000 people since 2009.

Much of the modalities to be fashioned out by the amnesty committee, which is headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, are still shrouded in secrecy.

Apart from the Sultan, others on the committee are the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ibrahim Ola Sa’ad; National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); representatives of the Directors-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the State Security Service (SSS), the NEF; and a former security chief in former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s regime.

Irrespective of the establishment of the committee, a splinter group of the terror sect rejected the amnesty option, stating that it was not what they bargained for and that it would not deter them from pursuing their course.

Abu Darda, a spokesperson of the group, told the BBC Hausa Service Tuesday: “We don't believe in the democratic form of government being practised and in the constitution, but in Islamic law (Sharia).”

The threat by Boko Haram to continue the attacks, notwithstanding, Aliyu Wednesday stated that the security situation in parts of the northern region had improved in recent times.

The Niger State governor, who called on Nigerians to join hands to bring the insurgency to an end, added: “Things are calming down now in the region, but we are not out of the woods yet; everyone should work towards a permanent solution to the security situation in the north and the country.”

Aliyu, who spoke in Minna, the Niger State capital, when he received two delegations from the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacy and the Arewa Transformation Support Initiative at the Government House, partly blamed the crisis in some parts of the country on ignorance and therefore emphasised the need for parents to pay more attention to the education of their children.

He urged the federal government to make it compulsory for the tenets of both the Islamic and Christian religions to be taught in schools as a way of having permanent peace in the north and other parts of the country.

“If Boko Haram members are vast in the Islamic religion they would not kill anybody because Islam says there is no compulsion in religion,” he said.

He further stated that there is a serious dysfunctional relationship between the government and the governed, adding that Nigerians should pray fervently for the nation to have the “leadership that will move the country to greater heights.”

Also speaking on the clemency being contemplated by the federal government for the Islamic sect, Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, described the amnesty committee as a welcome development, saying granting amnesty to the insurgents was key to restoring peace in the north.

Wamakko made the remark on the Hausa service of Radio France International (RFI) monitored in Sokoto Wednesday and maintained that granting amnesty to the insurgents was the only option available to restoring peace in the beleaguered region.

He pointed out that without granting pardon to the insurgents, it would be difficult for members of the sect to drop their arms and stop the asymmetric warfare.

“How can you fight people that you don't see, how can you fight people that are faceless. It is an exercise in futility and there is no way the federal government will record victory by using force against the insurgents.

“So it is only when the amnesty is granted to the insurgents, that they will be able to cease hostilities, come out and be in position to dialogue with the federal government,” he said.

The governor noted that militants in the Niger Delta were beneficiaries of the federal government's amnesty programme, in spite of the fact that they crippled oil production and sabotaged the Nigerian economy.

He emphasised that as a result of the amnesty programme, peace had been restored in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, the idea of granting pardon to the Boko Haram insurgents had become necessary, as the use of force would not bring an end to the recurring violence in the north.

He noted that the United States of America and Russia adopted the use of force against the Taliban without achieving any success.

However, a group in the South-east, the Biafra Liberation Council (BLC), Wednesday flayed the federal government’s plan to grant clemency to the sect, thereby “shielding its members from being prosecuted despite the numerous crimes they have committed against humanity.”

In a statement signed by the group’s spokesperson, Amaechi Nwaofia, BLC said: “We are not surprised that the Nigerian state is considering the amnesty package, which may include handsome rewards for the terror group rather than checkmating their nefarious activities given the fact that the primary target of the terrorists in their jihad operations are the Igbos, the people of Biafra.

“We wish to remind the federal government of Nigeria that it is its duty to protect law abiding people within its territory, whether they are foreigners or citizens. It is also the duty of the state to bring those involved in criminal acts, including terrorism, to book rather than protecting and rewarding them.

“It is therefore unimaginable that a group which has killed hundreds of Ndigbo in the north simply because they failed to embrace Islam is being considered for amnesty.
“Interestingly, it is on records that Nigeria’s immigration and other security authorities have said that Boko Haram is peopled by foreigners or foreign mercenaries from Cameroun, Niger, Chad, Mali, etc.

“Is Nigeria granting amnesty to foreign terrorists? Is Nigeria paying compensation to these foreign merchants of violence for attacking the people within the territory of Nigeria?”

It urged the government to drop any plan aimed at granting any form of amnesty to the terrorists as it would amount to treating certified criminals like sacred cows and rewarding them positively for terrorism.

“Rather than the so-called amnesty, if Nigeria truly wants peace, they should form a committee that will handle the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria to enable Boko Haram as well as other sections like Biafran groups to have the country of their dreams,” BLC said.

It noted that the sect had made it abundantly clear through their demands of the desire for a “Sharia country, without which there will never be peace.”

BLC added: “Rather than amnesty, a country should be carved out for them where anybody who finds himself or herself there will know that they are under the rules of Sharia.”

It advised Igbos in Northern Nigeria to leave the north, “as it is very obvious that the Nigerian state is not interested in protecting them against the killers.”

Meanwhile, four officials of the Borno State Government were on Tuesday evening shot dead in Dikwa by gunmen believed to be members of Boko Haram.

The four officials, it was gathered, were members of the Borno State Feeding Committee established last year by the state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, to oversee the feeding of boarding students of primary and secondary schools.

Two of the officials killed in Dikwa, a distance of 80 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital, were Alhaji Tijjani Mafi and Alhaji Modu Kura Gubio. Gubio was a former accountant in the state Government House.

It was gathered that the officials were ambushed and killed in Loguma village in Dikwa town when they went to pay a condolence visit to one of their associates.

Another source however said they were ambushed and killed by the gunmen on a trip to the area to inspect schools.

The Toyota Hilux vehicle in which they were travelling was said to have been stolen by the heavily armed men.

Also, three persons, including two teachers, were said to have been killed at their homes in Bama, another town in the state on Tuesday night.

Though details of the incident were still sketchy at the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the gunmen invaded the homes of the teachers and slaughtered them at night despite the curfew imposed on the town.

When the spokesman of the JTF, Lt. Col Sagir Musa, was contacted, he could not give details on the two incidents.

He advised that the police authorities should be contacted.
All attempts to get the public relations officer of the police in the state, Gideon Jibrin, to confirm the incidents were also unsuccessful, as he could not be reached on his phone.


Article Credit: Thisday Newspaper

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