Fear Grips Presidency Over Boko Haram’s Rejection of Amnesty…Stakeholders Proffer Way Forward
The sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau had in an audio statement said the group has not committed any crime to deserve clemency.
“Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon,” Shekau was quoted as saying
It was gathered that the government got to know of Boko Haram stand on Wednesday night.
A source said: “No one is happy in the Presidency and in the security agencies because the decision of Boko Haram leaders is a setback.
“That is why everyone is wearing somber look because President Goodluck Jonathan and his security chiefs have been working round the clock to make the amnesty work.
“The government is already exploring options to salvage the situation, including liaison with Northern elders who could help persuade Boko Haram leaders to open up talks with the government.”
Asked why the Boko Haram leaders rejected amnesty, rights activist, Comrade Shehu Sani, who once facilitated talks with Boko Haram, said the rejection of amnesty by the sect should be expected because the Federal Government failed to do its homework well.
In Sani’s view, the rejection should have been expected because the Federal Government failed to do its homework well.
He also accused the government of focusing on a monetised amnesty instead of a genuine type.
Sani said: “Well, I am not surprised. In fact, it should be expected that they (Boko Haram leaders) should reject it because the government has put the horse before the cart.
“First and foremost, the whole idea of amnesty is a charade. The concept brought by Northern elders is an amnesty modelled along the line of Niger Delta and it is attached to financial commitment from the side of the state. They wanted to buy peace at a heavy amount of money just the way it is being brought about in the Niger Delta
“The committee being set up by the government would naturally be rejected by Boko Haram because it was not constituted after a consultation with the leaders of the sect.
“The whole idea is about extracting billions of naira to be shared to insurgents and also giving out contracts, using the names of Boko Haram leaders.
“They simply rejected being used by some persons who want to profit from the amnesty deal.
“The way forward is for the government to go back to Dr. Ahmed Datti Ahmed peace talk which was facilitated by a journalist, Ahmad Salkida of which the group acknowledged and endorsed at that very time.
“The outcome of that talk should then be preceded by a committee, which will have the input of the sect and also be recognised by the government.
“The next stage will then be a six to eight or nine-month ceasefire, which will ensure justice for all the victims of Boko Haram.
“So, any thought of using tax payers’ money to back up a fraudulent amnesty is an exercise in futility.”
On his own part, a former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, said dialogue with the sect ought to come first before amnesty. To him, the rejection is not surprising. Col. Umar said dialogue ought to have come first before the Federal Government rushed into the amnesty offer.
He said through dialogue, the government ought to have allowed the people to identify themselves, present their demands, consider the demands and open talks with the victims of Boko Haram insurgency whether they are ready to forgive or not.
Col. Umar said: “Well, I have all been skeptical about this amnesty issue. I align myself with the fact that there should be dialogue between the government and Boko Haram so that we will know what the insurgents want before we jump into amnesty.
“Without dialogue, we will not know whether they are ready for ceasefire or not. So, we need to create room for them to identify themselves, what their demands are and discuss with the Federal Government whether the government can meet these demands or not.
“Also, in considering amnesty, the Federal Government must take into account that there are victims that have been killed, maimed and those that lost their property. We need to know whether the families of those killed and other victims are ready to forgive or not. President Goodluck Jonathan does not have the power to forgive, which is the whole essence of amnesty. There are victims who must be ready to forgive before we can talk of amnesty.
“To be honest, I am not surprised that they (Boko Haram leaders) have come out to reject amnesty. This is the first time the nation must come together or be united to address this insurgency.”
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