Sunday, 31 March 2013

AMNESTY FOR BOKO HARAM SECT IS ALREADY ON OFFER

The dust being raised in the country following persistent calls for amnesty for the Boko Haram insurgents is a revelation of ignorance, insincerity and religious mediocrity of many Nigerians. It is very unfortunate that Boko Haram can play on our religious reasoning and succeed in dividing Nigerians along four ideological perspectives centering on whether to grant unconditional amnesty to Boko Haram sect or not.

 

Ideological Perspectives to Boko Haram’s Amnesty

The first group is those calling for unconditional amnesty for Boko Haram without an in-depth analysis of the demands of Boko Haram visa vice what amnesty is expected to achieve in the Nigeria situational dictate.

 

The second group comprises those who think that Boko Haram members, considering the damage they have done to the country and atrocities they have committed against humanity deserve no amnesty but the full wrath of the law.

 

The third group includes those who are agitating for unconditional amnesty for Boko Haram jihadists as their own humble contributions towards the ongoing jihad aimed at establishing Islamic nation or Umman in Nigeria. They are covertly supporting the cause with their funds through Zakat and Sadaqat and morale, and are also overtly lobbying the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the executors of the holy war as well as allowing them to keep their weapons for use during the next jihad because according to Abubakar Shekau, “Muslims don’t lay down arms, they merely keep it aside”.  

 

The fourth group consists of those who are resolute that Boko Haram, as it stand now, do not deserve amnesty. This rational group is of the opinion that Boko Haram sect must meet the minimum standard required for the granting of amnesty before they will be afforded the opportunity. To this group belong President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Professor Wole Soyinka and majority of Nigerians. It is based on this premises that on Monday, 18th February, 2013 the Federal Government of Nigeria expressed its readiness to offer amnesty to members of Boko Haram, if their leader, Abubakar Shekau gives up himself. This condition by the Federal government is in place because Shekau is one of three members of the group on United States of America’s terror list.

 

Amnesty for Boko Haram Sect is Already on Offer

But, come to think of it, recently that the National Coordinator of the Counter Terrorism Centre, Major General Sarkin-Yaki Bello (rtd) announced the readiness of the Federal Government of Nigeria to accommodate members of the Boko Haram sect in a rehabilitation programme. Why is it that the apostles of Boko Haram’s unconditional amnesty are not responding to this disclosure which was made at an interactive session with top United States military (Capstone Course) personnel led by Admiral Henry Chiles (rtd) at the National Defence College, Abuja? In the words of Major-General Bello, “Government is also working to ensure that an opportunity will be created to embrace extremists who renounce terrorism to come forward for rehabilitation.” (Emphasis is mine).

 

He added that government is prepared to meet the demands put forward by the group which included the release of its members in detention; the rebuilding of its mosque (Markas) which was destroyed by military operations in Maiduguri in 2009 and allowing sect members to practice their religion freely.

 

Bello said government would adopt some socio-economic measures to address extremism in the north, hence members of the sect who renounce violence will be granted amnesty.

 

“The Federal Government in conjunction with state governments will soon officially launch a coordinated programme aimed at addressing unemployment in the region.”

 

Conclusion

Irrespective of the group of thought we belong, let us swallow our pride, keep our righteousness to ourselves, imbibe religious tolerance, eschew violence in all its ramifications and follow the path of Mr. President. Rationality holds the key. You don’t discuss peace with someone holding a loaded AK47 rifle behind him.

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