President Goodluck Jonathan has said he was not ready to offer Amnesty to members of the Islamist militant sect, Boko Haram.
This was in a reaction to an earlier suggestion from the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111.
Jonathan spoke on his first state trip to the Yobe State in the Northeastern part of Nigeria in three years despite the Boko Haram’s insurgency in the same period of time.
“I cannot talk about amnesty with Boko Haram now until they come out and show themselves,” Jonathan told reporters in Yobe state capital Damaturu, a town regularly hit by the sect’s guerrilla-style bomb and gun attacks.
The Sultan of Sokoto had proposed on Tuesday that members of Boko Haram – who currently pose the country’s biggest security threat – should be offered an amnesty, similar to the one given to militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta in 2009.
The delta deal promising no prosecution and cash for fighters who handed in their weapons pulled thousands of armed youths out of the creeks.
It almost wiped out militant attacks on oil pipelines for political purposes, which had choked off Africa’s biggest oil industry.
“Some people are comparing Boko Haram with the Niger Delta but, in Niger Delta if you call them (the militants), they will come out. But the Boko Haram don’t and we can’t grant amnesty to ghosts,” Jonathan said during his one day visit.
Boko Haram has since its operation been shrouded in secrecy, its demand being the carving out of an Islamic state despite the large number of Christians and Muslims hitherto co-habiting in the all parts of the country.
After the killing of Boko Haram’s spokesman last year, members have stopped calling to claim attacks. In recent months, bombings and shootings have been attributed to Boko Haram by the army or police.
Many politicians have also been implicated in either harbouring members of the sect, arms storage or in some form, backing the insurgency. It has not been strange however to find criminal gangs using the sect as a cover-up for their robberies and raids.
Boko Haram has regularly targeted soldiers, police, government officials, Christians and educational institutions.
Whereas, a report claimed the sect has ceased fire, Boko Haram’s self-proclaimed leader Abubakar Shekau recently appeared in a video rejecting any notion of a ceasefire or peace talks with the government.
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