Some Northern leaders who believe declaring amnesty for the Islamist sect group Boko Haram is the only way to stop the terrorist group from maiming innocent Nigerians have been berated by the Presidency, saying they were politicising the issue.
President Goodluck Jonathan had, during a visit to Yobe State a few weeks ago, said the Federal Government could not grant amnesty to the militant Islamic sect, following calls by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III for the government to grant Boko Haram amnesty.
He had said, “We cannot declare amnesty for Boko Haram because we cannot declare amnesty for ghosts. You cannot liken Boko Haram to what happened in the Niger Delta.”
Some prominent Nigerians, including a former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and an ex-Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, faulted the President’s decision.
“Jonathan was wrong to have said that he will not grant amnesty to Boko Haram; he should not fail to protect the people and when people call saying ‘we are tired; we are down’ even if it means to dialogue and have a solution to the whole process, he should opt for such,” Ribadu told Liberty FM, Kaduna on Saturday.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe however, in a statement on Monday said the proponents of the call should learn from how the amnesty programme in the Niger Delta was brokered.
According to him, proponents of amnesty for Boko Haram should initiate contacts with its leaders and convince them to dialogue with government.
Okupe said Jonathan had nothing to gain from the prolongation of the wanton destruction of life and property by members of the sect.
He said leaders of thought in the affected states should prevail on the leadership of the sect to abandon “their destructive pursuit and embrace dialogue”, like the militants in the Niger Delta did before amnesty was granted.