Tuesday 16 April 2013

Federal Government Constitutes Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram

Federal Government Constitutes Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram

The Federal Government of Nigeria has resolved to setup a committee that will be saddled with the responsibility of administering the amnesty being planned for members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.

The decision to constitute the Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram was taken at a meeting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had with security chiefs on Tuesday on the lingering insecurity in northern part of the country.

A source in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where the meeting took place, explained that the decision was based on the recommendation of the technical committee earlier set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to consider the various calls for amnesty and its feasibility.

The Committee headed by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) which was constituted two weeks ago presented its report during the Tuesday meeting which presided over by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

The Sambo Dasuki’s Committee which had its members drawn from the security chiefs and ministers who form the security council and saddled with the responsibility of coming up with a framework that might include the conditions the Boko Haram sect members have to meet in order to enjoy the amnesty was said to have advised that the Federal Government should yield to the calls for amnesty for members of the sect in order for peace to reign in the country.

The new committee will be an enlarged one with both relevant government officials and people outside of government as members.

Its responsibility will be to administer the amnesty by identifying the sect members, supervising their disarmament and coordinating their rehabilitation on behalf of the Federal Government.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, or his nominee was being considered to head the new committee.

The source said that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation would make an announcement on the new committee and its members; stressing that the announcement might be a bit delayed because of the need for Federal Government to first contact those being considered for the assignment.

The source said, “I can confirm to you that the technical committee submitted its report today (Tuesday) and the government has decided to set up a larger amnesty committee whose membership will be announced by the Office of the SGF soon. Immediately after consultation is completed, the names would be announced.”

The latest meeting of security chiefs with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan came less than 12 hours after Mr. President met traditional rulers from the northern part of the country on the same issue of insecurity.

The northern traditional leaders had called on Mr. President to go ahead with the move to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram Islamic sect despite its recent rejection.

The monarchs also called on Mr. President to adopt dialogue as one of the ways to resolve the crisis.

The heads the Army, Police, Navy, State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency, the Tuesday meeting was attended by members of the Federal Executive Council and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuk i(rtd).


But as the meeting rose, reactions have continued to trail the planned amnesty for the Boko Haram Islamic sect. The trio of Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Dr. Paul Unongo welcome amnesty for Boko Haram discreibing it as a recipe for peace in the country.

Meanwhile, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has restated its opposition to amnesty for the sect. The association said that Christians were the sole targets of Boko Haram Islamic sect and not Muslims as claimed by Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI).

It added that over 200 churches had been burnt and 1,250 Christians killed in the last three years by the sect.

CAN also pointed out that Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Dr. Paul Unongo could not speak on its behalf because their opinions on amnesty did not reflect the plight of the brutalized victims of attacks by the violent Boko Haram Islamic sect.

Speaking through its General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake, at a press briefing in Abuja, CAN frowned at the utterances of JNI which portrayed CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and his executive as enemies of Nigeria.

He stated that, “For the JNI to twist ongoing history so early, that it is the major victim of Boko Haram, is to incur a huge debt on its integrity and credibility as concerns its present crop of leaders. There is no doubt that some moderate Muslims who oppose the violent doctrines of Boko Haram, have fallen under its swords. And some Emirs, who have had the courage to speak against the evil of Boko Haram, have also been attacked.

“But CAN cannot recall if the numbers are more than what the JNI has named above. But the truth remains that Christians are the major and main, if not sole targets of Boko Haram.

“Indeed, statistics released by International agencies show that more Christians were killed in Nigeria in the year 2012 alone, for their faith than the rest of the world combined.

“In last three years, besides the isolated bombings in Abuja, Boko Haram has bombed over 200 churches and killed over 1,250 Christians worshipping in their churches, burnt and destroyed whole villages, targeted specific communities/individuals and has made good every threat it published at inception, to wit the elimination of all Christians from Northern Nigeria and the total Islamisation of the North by imposition of strict sharia rule.”

Reacting to Kukah and Onaiyekan’s support for amnesty, CAN said, “The two men do not have any moral or institutional authority to speak for Nigerian Christians. Their position remains very unpopular among the persecuted church in the North. Only CAN is vested with such powers, notwithstanding the constitutional rights of the two men to air their opinions on any national issues.

“Therefore, Cardinal John Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Kukah do not speak for Nigerian Christians, not even for CAN in any of the 19 Northern states. What they are saying is their personal opinion that does not take into consideration the plight of the victims.

“The JNI must begin to query the change in its value system; a system that now makes them spokesperson of a murderous and bloodthirsty group without being sensitive to the victims of the sect, a system that allows for the slaughtering of human beings like cows without any remorse.”

CAN therefore called on President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan “to as a matter of urgency, dismiss the whole idea of amnesty for an unrepentant group, because it would be a panacea for confusion in the country.”

The Christians body advised that the issue of victims of the Boko Haram sect’s activities should be taken with all seriousness before any step could be taken further.

The body urged Christians to pray while making effort to defend themselves, since Boko Haram Islamic sect does not see any wrong with its style of Jihad against them.

In the meantime, Nigerians are waiting with their fingers crossed. Who comes first or who is not considered at all, the Victim or the criminal?

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