- Last Updated on 10 April 2013
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National Leader of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari has implored Nigerians to support all initiatives of the Federal Government towards restoring peace to the country, particularly the troubled North, even if this means granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.
Speaking with journalists at the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta, the former military president admitted having no information on the amnesty committee’s terms of reference but expressed conviction that it would be similar to Late President Umaru Yar’ Ardua’s arrangement with Niger Delta militants.
“Yes, it is good they have set up a committee. I haven’t seen the terms of reference but it [is the] right thing to do,” said Buhari, who was flanked by his running mate in the 2011 presidential election, Pastor Tunde Bakare; National Chairman of CPC, Chief Tony Momoh; former Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari; National Publicity Secretary, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin; Southwest Chairman, Mr Razaq Muse; and Lagos State Chairman, Emibata Ajibade.
“This is not the first time amnesty will be given to a violent group. Remember what happened with Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua and the militants; this not the first time. Whatever that will bring peace to the society, we should do it.”
Buhari was visiting Ogun State to commiserate with the matriarch of Awolowo family, Chief (Mrs) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo over the death of Evangelist Oluwole Awolowo. He afterwards paid a courtesy call on Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona in Ijebu-Ode.
Conversely meanwhile, an assemblage of youths under the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has opposed the Federal Government’s plant to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect, describing it as an attempt to reward violent Muslims who have shown no respect for the sanctity of life and have been hiding under the guise of socioeconomic challenges.
At a world press conference held at the National Christian Centre, the group, Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), lamented that the president was finally cowering on his earlier position not to grant amnesty to a faceless group, and urged him to firmly resist mounting political pressure in the direction.
“We find it important to address you this moment on the state of our nation, Nigeria. In recent times, there have been concerted calls on the Federal Government of, Nigeria to grant amnesty to the Islamist group, Boko Haram,” the group began in a press release signed by its president, Dr. Simon Dolly (JP).
“We are worried by this clarion call and the subsequent setting up of a committee by
President Goodluck Jonathan to work out modalities for granting amnesty despite his earlier position on the amorphous nature of this terrorist group. We, the entire Christian Youths in Nigeria, say NO to any form of amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect or any such group.”
YOWICAN stated that if the Federal Government is truly contemplating granting amnesty to “willful murderers masquerading as political and religious insurgents who do not respect the basic tenets of humanity and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it should be prepared to face perhaps deadlier and more sophisticated response.
“If the proponents of amnesty are claiming that poverty, injustice and unemployment are the root causes of the unrest, our questions are: ‘Are injustice, poverty and unemployment limited to the Muslim youths alone? Are Christian youths in the North and, indeed, all over Nigeria not suffering from unemployment, injustice and poverty? Would President Jonathan accede to requests for amnesty to MASSOB, OPC, Middle Belt and other groups with complaint against the Federal Government if tomorrow they pick up arms to advance their causes?’
“We appeal to the president not to be cowed by politicians and few misfits and naturally rebellious persons in the North who are attempting to use the Boko Haram insurgency as a bait to correct what they have failed to do while they were in power.
“This planned amnesty for murderers is potentially dangerous to Nigeria and Nigerians because it is a clarion call to more terrorism in Nigeria. As it is, the Christian youths in the North who have all along been marginalized by these same advocates of amnesty to Boko Haram members would have been given more muscles to deal with Christian youths.”
YOWICAN urged the president to remember that the amnesty being advocated is for Muslim youths who are the Boko Haram members and who have killed and maimed innocent fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children and also bombed and burnt churches without provocation.
“Many of us are now carrying the burden of our parents and brothers who have been killed. What kind of injustice can be more than this if amnesty is granted to those who wreaked this havoc? Mr. President, it would amount to pampering the same people who have turned Nigeria into another Bosnian state and calling the bluff of those who are the victims of the bloodthirsty sect members.
“We ask Mr. President to go all out for these Boko Haram members by consolidating on the gains made by the various security agencies and to arrest the likes of Senators Zanna, Bukar Abba Ibrahim and others whose utterances and actions have implicated them. Injustice, unemployment and poverty are not limited to the Muslim North alone.
It is injustice if Almajari schools are built for Muslim youths alone and funded by tax payer’s money. To now grant amnesty to Boko Haram members is compounding the injustice. The fact that Christian youths have not reacted does not mean we are cowards. We have simply been under strict instructions not to react by the CAN leadership. But Mr. President would help a great deal not to fuel the anger of Christian youths by disowning the amnesty request because we would have no excuse to give our youths if this amnesty deal is struck.”
Continuing, the release stated: “We have continued to watch how billions of tax payer’s money is being used to build ‘Almajiri’ schools. We hereby demand unconditionally, the return of all missionary schools to their rightful owners and to also as a matter of necessity build ‘Christian Vocational Centres’ in the 36 states of the Federation, including Abuja. Furthermore, the continued lack of employment of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) teachers in most of the northern states should be reversed immediately.”
The youth group also assessed the current SURE-P programme, observing with dismay that having used Nigerian youths to endorse the subsidy reinvestment with good promises, the programme has turned out to be a sham and complete deceit.
“We want to remind Mr. President and his team to fulfill their pledges and stop politicizing this economic virtue,” YOWICAN said, adding that as law-abiding citizens of the country, it will continue to pray and watch with keen interest how situation unfolds but wishes to state that “nobody has the monopoly of