Christian and other religious leaders continue to express frustration over the proposal to grant Boko Haram militants ‘total amnesty’ for the horrors they have visited upon Nigerian Christians. After three years of insurgency, Boko Haram as thought to be responsible for an estimated 3,000 murders. Many of those murdered were killed because of their Christian identity. If the government did offer Boko Haram amnesty, what sort of justice would the families of the victims receive?
3/14/2013 Nigeria (TheGuardianNigeria) – Fresh criticism Wednesday trailed the plea by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, to the Federal Government to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members.
This time, the condemnation came from the Emir of Anka, Zamfara State, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad and the Northern Christian Elders Forum (NORCEF).
The Sultan, who is the President-General of Nigerian Muslims, had during the yearly Central Council meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Kaduna asked Jonathan to use the opportunity of his recent visit to Maiduguri to grant total amnesty to the insurgents.
But during a three-day workshop on peace building and conflict management for sustainable development organised by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Wenesday, Anka said: “Amnesty is for those people you know. How can you give amnesty to the people you don’t know?”
According to the emir, “where were our leaders when the Boko Haram were going to receive training outside the country? Let us check ourselves, if there must be justice, we must go back to the basics.”
Saying that the elite and politicians often spark off crises in the country, Ahmad insisted that they (elite and politicians) had no respect for human life.
“As a traditional ruler who lives with the people, I have come to a conclusion that if the so-called common man is left alone, there is going to be peace in the land. But any place you find crisis, just look around, you must find the involvement of these two classes – the elite and politicians,” he added.
Members of NORCEF warned the Arewa leaders against an imminent revolution in the North, following years of recorded injustice and marginalisation by politicians and Muslim leaders in the North leading to the security challenges in the region.
They also faulted the calls by prominent leaders of the Arewa on President Goodluck Jonathan to grant Boko Haram amnesty in order to put the insurgency to a halt, pointing out that the insecurity in the region was as a result of past actions of some of the northern leaders.
NORCEF Chairman, Mathew Owojaiye and Secretary, Yusuf Illiya, condemned past actions of some Arewa leaders who they said had sown seeds of discord in the North and instituted poverty in the region, which incidentally were responsible for the security challenges.
In a statement, Owojaiye said: “The North is in a big mess and we know it. Revolution looms in the North and it will consume a lot of people. The elders already see the revolution coming and they themselves are talking about it.”
Advising all Arewa elders to retrace their steps and promote equity and justice in the region, Owojaiye said: “It is not too late to prevent a bloody revolution, stop blaming Jonathan, come together and do the right thing.”
According to the Christian elders, “if you grant amnesty to Boko Haram members, then two million people can claim to be members looking for benefits.
“What compensation will government pay for innocent people killed?