After several months of foot dragging and buck passing between the Presidency and stakeholders in the north on the emergence of Boko Haram and the possibility of granting amnesty to its members, the Federal government, yesterday, took a decisive step towards granting members of the sect amnesty as it set up a committee to look at the feasibility or otherwise of the programme.
The committee has as its 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 senior security official who was privy to the meeting of the National Security Council yesterday, said that the President set up an in-house committee with a two-week deadline to consider the clamour for amnesty for Boko Haram members and consider its feasibility or otherwise.
The source said: “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’. He added that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, the 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 is a complex situation, but government has obligation to respect public opinion, especially with increasing clamour for the amnesty from various quarters”, he added.
Under the proposed plan, the Federal Government is to set up an Amnesty Commission, which would serve as a quasi-judicial body, to register and cater for repentant members of the sect and protect them from being harassed or intimidated by security agents.