Opinion: Amnesty for Boko Haram is a ploy – and it will fail

by Onyiorah Paschal

Boko Haram militants

Strangely enough, instead of an outright condemnation of this position by Northern leaders and their sympathizers that had been making a fuss about amnesty, they appear not only to be hypocritical, afraid and confused, but also supportive of the sect’s line of thought.

By now, President Goodluck Jonathan would have gradually begun to realize that the clamour by Northern leaders and their sympathizers for amnesty to be granted to members of the Boko Haram family is all but a well calculated and subtle attempt designed to further discredit his government and thus portray him as incapable of handling issues of national security. To begin with, it is as clear as daylight that only the penitent deserves pardon, amnesty, forgiveness or what have you, yet the outright rejection of Mr. President’s gesture in this regard by the top hierarchy of Boko Haram underscores not only that his administration is clearly progressing in error, but also that the sect is more than ever before committed to the pursuit of its cause of Islamization of the Nigerian state, the campaign of which has been raging and ravaging the North. Little surprise therefore that Jonathan and his team have rather been portrayed by the sect as being the actual people that deserve amnesty, in what seems to be the sect’s fundamentalist interpretation of government’s efforts at containing them and their offensive so far.

Strangely enough, instead of an outright condemnation of this position by Northern leaders and their sympathizers that had been making a fuss about amnesty, they appear not only to be hypocritical, afraid and confused, but also supportive of the sect’s line of thought. Just come to think of it, apart from hearing it from them that the real or religious Boko Haram would definitely embrace the offer of amnesty by the government, Northern leaders have consciously or unconsciously confirmed that indeed there exist religious, criminal and political categories of Boko Haram, a fact they had previously and conveniently denied its existence especially whenever faithful of Christian persuasion alleged that the activities of the sect were mainly targeted at them.

Also, it is unarguable that Northern leaders are more confused and afraid now that the government seems to be cowardly gravitating towards their yearnings. Otherwise, how or where do we begin to rationalize a situation whereby this same group of unpredictable elements that initially posited and advocated that only the granting of amnesty preceded by government dialogue with members of the Boko Haram sect would bring to an end the incessant carnage in their enclave be the same people to be telling us now, in their newest song of amnesty, that not all members of the sect would be disposed to embrace Jonathan’s olive branch. More so, these same people have instead of obliging their pledge to the government on the issue of producing their seemingly invisible children to the round table for the so-called dialogue with the government, wittingly or unwittingly, shown themselves as the real faces behind the masks and/or the mouth piece of the sect, as evidenced in their outrageous proposal or demands put upon the government to first of all explain in details the benefits accruable from such declaration of amnesty for the Boko Haram. In fact, it is not only nonsensical but also ignominious that at a time serious-minded nations of the world are pre-occupied with efforts to harness human and natural resources at their disposal in combating terrorism, as in the classic case of the U.S.A, desperate elements and adventurers in Nigeria are very busy here dissipating energy and time quibbling over such frivolous issue as making and/or negotiating concessions to terrorists. And one wonders what exactly we are doing in this country.

What is more, almost in an expression of unalloyed solidarity with this novel mentality of the Boko Haram sect that it is rather president Jonathan and his team that deserve amnesty, Northern leaders have unreservedly pooh-poohed the term ‘amnesty’ for Boko Haram as being used by the Federal Government in describing whatever it is doing or intends to do for or with the sect members, thereby affirming the latter’s position. And even by way of tactical endorsement of the sect’s stance on the word ‘amnesty’ as a misnomer, these so-called leaders, who would always want us to believe that they are patriotic and as such want the best for the nation, are of the view that instead of amnesty, the term “reconciliation concept” would be Islamically apposite to the context of the sect’s desires, conditions and terms – and not the state’s – over the raging crisis, in order to de-emphasize, water down or obliterate the obviously inherent impression of complicity and its attendant remission that are both embedded in the word amnesty. In other words, left to Northern leaders, the Boko Haram members should not be reminded that they have done something wrong by killing people anyhow and destroying properties unnecessarily, and therefore deserve making atonement or showing contrition first for their wrong doings. Unfortunately, it is yet their belief that by the adoption of the term “reconciliation concept,” the sect will cease to be made to feel guilty of all their atrocities. But the big question is: what kind of mindset of self-righteousness are Northern leaders trying to build around the sect’s rejection of Jonathan’s unwarranted conciliatory or pacifist approach to them?

Again, from the prism of those who have always maintained that what is happening in the far North is nothing but their own brand of civil war and should be treated as such, there is in fact no more need for further proof of this truism judging by the increasing calls by Northern leaders on the government to set up a Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Commission for Northern region, a prototype of the three Rs designed and adopted in the aftermath of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. Interestingly, this goes to rubbish the arguments of those who still hold the notion that the Boko Haram insurgency in the North is far from being qualified as a civil war which primarily employs guerrilla tactic or methodology. Besides, the truth is that all who know members of the Boko Haram and shield them or refuse to expose them for reasons of fear, ethnic or religious sentiments are all part of the problem and must accept whatever fate they suffer in the raging civil war.

But be that as it may, it is imperative to still advert the minds of Mr. President and all sympathizers of the Boko Haram sect to the fact that only the concerted efforts of the people and leaders of the North, especially the Muslim faithful of this region, can bring to a halt this seemingly endless war, as exemplified recently by the good people of Kano in their gallant reprisal meted against those who came to plant bombs at the Mosque near the palace of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayaro. Instructively, this approach had been used and shown to be viable by the Igbo people of South East geo political zone via Bakassi boys, and it is already working for the North. Here, therefore, lies the solution to the Boko Haram menace and not the amnesty ploy being propagated by both Northern leaders and the government of President Jonathan.


Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal, a journalist, writes from Abuja


Read this article on Daily Independent.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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