“Surprise” and “shock” was expressed by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over the proposal of the Sultan of Sokoto, the nation’s top Islamic leader, to grant amnesty to members of the Islamist Boko Haram sect.
A statement released by the CAN general secretary, Musa Asake, criticizes the proposal of Alhaji Mohammad Saad Abubakar III to concede amnesty “to end an endless war”. In responding to the Islamic leader’s comments on amnesty being a response to certain injustice, Asake stressed that the CAN wondered what the Sultan meant by injustice in relation to the activities of the Boko Haram sect “when members of the group are a bunch of fundamentalists who have killed, maimed, deformed Christians and made orphans and widows of otherwise peaceful and lovely families”.
The Boko Haram, rooted in the Muslim north of Nigeria, claims to fight for the introduction of the Sharia Islamic law nationwide. The armed group also gains its strength from the wide poverty and unemployment, especially in the northern regions. Based on some estimates, attacks attributed to the Boko Haram since 2010 have left over 1,400 dead among both Christians and Muslims.
The Sultan came under fire for his proposal also from Nigeria’s Niger Delta southern oil region. The former national president of the Traditional Rulers for Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, Charles Ayemi-Botu, in fact stated that no comparison can be made between the radical Boko Haram and former Niger Delta militants, who benefited from amnesty as of 2009. “We have come to know Boko Haram as a faceless group with link to Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups thatabhor Western education. Their agitation has no moral basis and should not be compared to the Niger-Delta struggle, in which the youths took up arms for equity in the distribution of wealth from oil, explored in their domain”.
Abubakar III made the request for amnesty at the meeting of the Central Council of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Kaduna, underlining that only those who renounced to violence should benefit.
“The type of amnesty that ended the unrest in the Niger Delta would work also in the North”, added the Sultan. According to Abubakar III, a program of recuperation and reintegration would reinsert the terrorists back into society and consent the opening of dialogue for “an end to an endless war”. President Goodluck Jonathan tomorrow will go on a first official visit to the city of Maiduguri, in the north-east, historic stronghold of the Boko Haram.