Friday 5 April 2013

Military Chiefs Oppose Amnesty for Boko Haram

The plan by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram insurgents as part of measure to end the ongoing massacre of innocent citizens in northern Nigeria has met with opposition by military top brass.

Reliable sources at the Presidential Villa where the military chiefs met with Mr. President revealed that the objection by the military chiefs against the clemency granted Boko Haram sect by Mr. President centered on his stance during the recent visit to Yobe and Borno States.

The meeting which lasted for five hours behind closed doors was used by the military chiefs to disabuse Mr. President’s mind from the amnesty being contemplated for Boko Haram members. They advised President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan not to fall into the trap set by northern oligarchy on the issue of amnesty for Boko Haram sect.

They tried in vain pinpointing the security  implications of Mr. President resolve to grant amnesty to Boko Haram, stressing that his actions will be construed to mean that he is not a man of his word.  They also reminded Mr. President of what he said when he visited Borno State recently about not granting amnesty to ghosts, noting that since then nothing has changed to warrant the waving of the olive branch.

The military top brass in addition reminded Mr. President of their men and other security agents that were killed arbitrarily, cautioning on the impacts of the current decision on the morale of sworn officers and men.

At the end of the marathon meeting, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had his way against the good counsel of the military chiefs, except that he agreed to set up a committee to handle the issue of amnesty for Boko Haram.

The committee, whose members are yet to be announced, which is to work with the office of the National Security Adviser has the following terms of reference:

*To consider the feasibility or otherwise of granting pardon to the Boko Haram adherents,

*Collate clamours arising from different interest groups who want the apex government to administer clemency on members of the religious sect; and

*To recommend modalities for the granting of the pardon, should such step become the logical one to take under the prevailing circumstance.

A Presidential source said that Mr. President set up an in-house committee with a two-week mandate to consider the clamour for amnesty for Boko Haram members and consider its feasibility or otherwise.

The source added “If the committee, which will work hand in hand with the National Security Adviser (NSA) decides that amnesty would be workable, it will then outline modalities for implementing it’.

The source observed  that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, Mr. President never said there would be no amnesty at all but that he would do so if people come forward to identify themselves for discussion and negotiations.

It could be recalled that Mr. President has said that members of Boko Haram were ghosts and that there were members of the sect in his government. He also vowed that there was no way he would grant amnesty to ghosts. Has he identified them now?     

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