The Federal Government, yesterday, declared that it had not ruled out dialogue with Boko Haram to stop its killings in the Northeast and the release of the over 200 schoolgirls it abducted in Chibok, Borno State on April 14.
Dr Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who disclosed this, said that whereas government was pursing a military campaign against the Islamist group, dialogue option remained on the table.
“The Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflict in the North-east is a standing one. There is also a Presidential Fact-Finding Committee both of which have been engaging stakeholders and have been offering advice,” Abati told Vanguard.
“The position of government has been that the military option is there to deal specifically with impunity because no responsible government will fold its arms and allow any group supported by Al Qaeda to overrun the country or threaten to divide the country,” he said.
“The Nigerian government has made that very clear and President Jonathan has always said that he will not allow anybody to disintegrate Nigeria under his watch. At the same time, government has a soft approach under which it offers those who are willing to renounce terrorism to lay down their arms and return to the fold as citizens. The door is open to them for dialogue. The door is open to them for repentance and rehabilitation. They are like the lost sheep and the President is saying even these lost sheep we are willing to bring them back to the fold. The door of the Nigerian state is open to anyone who has gone astray, who has been misled to think that violence is a solution to whatever problem he or she may have, to rejoin the Nigerian family and conduct themselves as true citizens”.
The special adviser however said President Goodluck Jonathan never mentioned the issue of amnesty for Boko Haram members during his Democracy Day speech.
Reacting to the statement by the Minister of Youths Development, Haruna, on Thursday, during one of the events marking the Democracy Day celebrations, that government would grant amnesty to Boko Haram members who renounce violence and lay down their arms, Abati told State House correspondents that the President never mentioned amnesty in his Democracy Day broadcast.