Northern Leaders Set Plan to Meet Boko Haram Leader
Indication has emerged that prominent elders of the north who are expected to dominate the Federal Government’s committee on amnesty for the militant sect, Boko Haram, plans to reach out to the leader of the group, Sheik Ibrahim Shekau, Saturday punch has reported.
According to the newspaper, the Federal Government is still leaving the option open despite the sect’s rejection of the amnesty offer by the Federal Government.
The committee which would soon be set up we gathered would be comprised of respected Islamic leaders which will include some indigenes of Yobe and Borno states, which are the operating bases of the sect.
Islamic scholars and other prominent leaders from the two states and other northern state it is believed will pursue the dialogue option with the Boko Haram leader.
A top government source who revealed to Saturday punch under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said, “The Federal Government is not discouraged by the sect’s rejection of amnesty.
“We are going to use the stick and carrot approach. While the Joint Task Force will continue its operations, the committee will reach out to the sect for dialogue.
“We have started a process and we will not abandon it. We will, however, need the cooperation of northern leaders to appeal to those people.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had decided to give the call for amnesty a consideration after members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had a meeting with him and advised the President to offer amnesty to the sect members.
While plans were still been put together to constitute a committee to look into the pros and cons of the offer, the sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau reportedly rejected the amnesty offer on behalf of the group.
He was quoted as saying in a recorded audio message in Hausa, “Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you (a) pardon.”
But it was gathered that in spite of the sect’s rejection of the amnesty, the government would go ahead with its decision to set up the committee.
It was also gathered that apart from the Northern Elders’ Forum, other northern groups such as the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Governors’ Forum are expected to join in the peace moves.
Confirming this, a member of the NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, told one of our correspondents that the forum was prepared to play any role given to it in order to ensure peace.
Asked if the NEF would take up the challenge of reaching out to Shekau, he said, “It depends on how the committee is formulated. I think the government is working very hard to set up this committee, they have not finished.
“I know members of the committee will do this. The northern elders and other groups will join the main committee; there may be sub-committees which will be given various roles with the sole objective of ending the crisis.
“I don’t see our group being singled out; we will be called to make our contributions like every other group.”
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