Leader of militant Boko Haram Islamic sect, Abubakar Shekau, yesterday, rejected the idea of any potential amnesty deal which the Federal Government may offer the sect members if the committee set up to look into it gives the go-ahead.
Shekau, in a 30-minute audio recording, where he spoke in Hausa, Arabic and English declared that his group had “not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty”. He said it was the government that should be seeking amnesty from his group and not the other way round, adding that even though the sect was the one wronged and the one that should be asked for amnesty, it was not ready to grant any pardon to the government.
Shekau was reacting to the reported setting up of a committee last week by the National Security and Defence Council to consider the possibility of granting amnesty to Boko Haram. The committee is due to present its report to the council next week.
Shekau’s recorded video statement, first passed by intermediaries of Boko Haram to journalists in Northern Nigeria, yesterday, featured the militant leader talking about the possibility of an amnesty deal. Speaking in Hausa, Shekau said the amnesty deal was “surprising.”He said: “We are the one to grant them pardon. Have you forgotten their atrocities against us?”The man in the video later threatened the lives of anyone claiming to be a representative of Boko Haram. “We are surprised that today it is the Federal Government saying it will grant us amnesty. Oh God, is it we who will grant you amnesty or you are the one to grant us amnesty? “What have we done? If there is room for forgiveness, we are not going to do it until God gives us permission to do it. Have you forgotten your sin, have you forgotten what you have done to us in Plateau, the state you called Jos. We emerged to avenge killings of our Muslim brothers and the destruction of our religion. Was it not in Plateau that we saw people cannibalising our brothers?”The idea of an amnesty, came to a head in March when the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar called for it. Others have suggested offering an amnesty deal in line with one previously given to militants in the Niger Delta in 2009.
President Goodluck Jonathan had at the end of the National Security Council meeting last week Thursday set up a committee to look into the possibility of granting amnesty to the Islamic sect.The previous day, the president was said to have met for several hours with members of the powerful Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF at the Presidential Villa where a deal was reached to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members as a means of ending the spate of raging violence across the region.
Specifically, the President wanted an undertaking from the elders that they would impress upon the sect leaders and their followers to lay down their arms and embrace peace, as a condition for offering the olive branch.Under the plan, the Federal Government is to set up an Amnesty Commission, which would serve as a quasi-judicial body, to register and cater for repentant members of the sect and protect them from being harassed or intimidated by security agents.
A faction of the sect had last Sunday rejected the amnesty offer, saying the group did not ask for it. Spokesman of a faction of the sect, Abu Dardam who spoke on the Hausa service of the BBC stated that they are rejecting the amnesty because they don’t recognize democracy as a form of government and that the group does not agree with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, arguing that justice can only be found in the Holy Quran, that is Shariya system of government