FG cancels ‘Amnesty’ offer to Boko Haram?

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abubakar_shekauBy: Biodun Durojaiye

With the imposition of state of emergency on Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, and his declaration that terrorists will be hunted down and brought to justice, the offer of ‘amnesty’ to the insurgent Boko Haram sect seems to have been cancelled by the federal government.

Before his national television broadcast Tuesday night, in which the state of emergency was proclaimed, President Jonathan had met with the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North (the ‘amnesty’ committee) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, in what analysts consider last-minute consultations.

Governors of the three states on which emergency rule were imposed were also at the villa for consultations before the proclamation.

In the broadcast, the President said: “Previously, we adopted a multi-track approach to the resolution of this problem through actions which included persuasion, dialogue and widespread consultation with the political, religious and community leaders in the affected states.

“We exercised restraint to allow for all efforts by both State Governors and well-meaning Nigerians to stop the repeated cases of mindless violence.

“Yet, the insurgents and terrorists seek to prevent government from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to the people as they pursue their fanatical agenda of mayhem, mass murder, division and separatism.

“While the efforts at persuasion and dialogue will continue, let me reiterate that we have a sacred duty to ensure the security and well-being of all our people and protect the sovereign integrity of our country. Therefore, we shall, on no account, shy away from doing whatever becomes necessary to provide the fullest possible security for the citizens of this country in any part of the country they choose to reside.

“We have a duty to stand firm against those who threaten the sovereign integrity of the Nigerian state. Our will is strong, because our faith lies in the indivisibility of Nigeria.”

Analysts argue that these words by the President, and his declaration that terrorists will be hunted down and brought to justice, when juxtaposed with the rejection of dialogue once again on Monday by the sect, could only mean that the federal government was no longer seriously considering the dialogue option.

Leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, had in a video released on Monday, said “You talk of dialogue …You are free to say whatever you want to say but we will never stop our struggle.”

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