Saturday, 6 April 2013

PDP, CAN, ACF disagree on amnesty for Boko Haram

The Christian Association of Nigeria has criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for his decision to set up a committee that will pave the way for amnesty for the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
It said the decision showed that he (Jonathan) was not in charge.
According to the association, granting amnesty to the sect only shows that lawlessness is a profitable venture in Nigeria.
“The fact that Jonathan has allowed himself to be intimidated by traditional rulers, Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum and Muslim clerics from the North shows that he is not in charge of the situation. If he is a President that is in charge, he should demonstrate to the world that nobody is above the law in this country,” CAN stated.

The Public Relations Officer of CAN (Northern states and Abuja), Mr. Sunny Oibe, told one of our correspondents that the decision was a bad signal for the country.
He said, “If the government has decided to set up a committee to consider granting amnesty to Boko Haram under the watchful eyes of the National Security Adviser without compensating people that have been killed, it then goes to show that something is fundamentally wrong with our society and government.
“How can President Goodluck Jonathan, who, not long ago, said he could not grant amnesty to ghosts, now decide to set up a committee for amnesty? During the administration of his boss, the late Umar Yar’Adua, he did not go about chasing the Niger Delta militants.
“Rather, the citizens from the South-South region went and talked to their boys to lay down their arms and engage the government constructively. The question is: who are the members of this Boko Haram? If the government is not careful, this amnesty for Boko Haram will encourage insurgencies throughout the country.
“It means that if you have to get government’s attention, you have to engage in lawlessness. The granting of amnesty to Boko Haram goes to show that lawlessness is a profitable venture in Nigeria. It will encourage the younger generation to embark on lawlessness so that government will give them attention.
“Honestly, as Christians from the North who have suffered the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency, we are saying no to amnesty and if Jonathan is going ahead to consider amnesty for them, in view of the over 2,000 Nigerian Christians that have been killed in the North, burnt churches and business premises, he must be ready to engage the Christians because the silence of the church does not mean that we don’t know what to do.
“Boko Haram members didn’t tell us that they are fighting because of poverty, unemployment and hunger. But they said they want an Islamic state. Is that the reason why government now wants to have a dialogue with them and thereby pave the way for more states in the North? Nigerians are watching carefully; but they should know that by encouraging lawlessness, they still have the forces of Christians in Nigeria to contend with and we will not take it.”
But the General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, said he would only comment after the committee had completed its work.
He said, “Let’s wait for the committee to finish their work and when the committee gives their own recommendation, it is then we can comment. Now, it is just for the committee to look at the whole issue and make a recommendation. Normally, nobody is saying there should not be amnesty, but we are saying amnesty for who?”
But the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Friday, hailed the decision of the President to set up a committee to look into the call for amnesty for Boko Haram.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents, said it had always been the position of the forum that the insurgents be given amnesty to prepare the groundwork for negotiation with the group.
He said it was only logical for the Federal Government to explore other options to tackle the Boko Haram issue since the use of force had failed.
He said the offer of amnesty would bring out some of those involved in the raging security crisis in the North contrary to the claim of the government that they were faceless.
Sani said that the mere declaration that the Boko Haram was faceless without taking further steps would not solve the problem.
He said, “This is what we have been canvassing; we have been saying that since the use of force has failed, why not use other options, the option of amnesty.
“Government has been insisting that they are ghosts, they are faceless. Amnesty may be a way of bringing them out.
“All of them may not come out at the beginning; some may come out and the process of dialogue would start from there,” he said
A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, hailed the decision of the government to consider amnesty for Boko Haram members and described it as “great news,” which according to him, would put an end to the security crisis and wanton loss of lives in the country.
He called on the sect to honour the government gesture by laying down their arms and coming to the dialogue table.
Asked about the refusal of the FG to compensate victims of the sect’s murderous attacks, the retired CP noted that this would cost a lot of money which the government may not be able to pay.