IHUOMA CHIEDOZIE, GODWIN ISENYO and PETER DADA
Pan-Northern socio-political group, Arewa Consultative Forum, has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to grant unconditional amnesty to repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
The Boko Haram sect had over the years wreak havoc on the North-East states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and other parts of the North.
The group argued that the planned amnesty by the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration was a welcome development.
National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, said on Saturday that nothing was wrong with the amnesty being proposed for the repentant sect members.
He said the ACF believed that such a measure was adopted by the previous government to stabilise the restiveness in the Niger Delta region occasioned by the activities of militants.
The ACF said, “The offer of unconditional amnesty by the Federal Government to Boko Haram terrorists or any other groups who surrender their arms, denounce their militancy and then pledge their loyalty to the government is a welcome development, considering the insecurity posed by insurgency in the last nine years.
“It will be recalled that the Biafran rebels and Niger Delta militants, who denounced their rebellion and militancy against the state, were not only granted amnesty but also empowered with skills and re-integrated into society to contribute to its socio-economic development.
“The ACF, therefore, urges the insurgents and other militia groups to lay down their arms and embrace the Federal Government’s offer of amnesty as the only means to peaceful coexistence and development.
“This will also pave the way for Nigeria to pursue order, justice, liberty, peace and prosperity for all.”
But the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has condemned the proposed amnesty for the Boko Haram sect, describing the move as an act of irresponsibility on the part of the Buhari administration.
The Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, described the All Progressives Congress as a Boko Haram- friendly party.
He said, “Giving amnesty to members of the Boko Haram is the height of impunity, insensitivity and audacious insult to the collective memory of thousands of Nigerians who were callously killed by Boko Haram.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Uche Achi-Okpaga, wondered why the Federal Government would grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect, which had killed thousands of Nigerians, after deploying the army against the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group that is not known to bear arms.
Okpaga, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Enugu, said the development was a clear sign of ‘double standards’ on the part of the Buhari administration.
He said, “I would not bother to go into the merits, or otherwise, of the decision. However, if the government could negotiate with a world- acclaimed terrorist group like Boko Haram and grant its members amnesty, after deploying soldiers with armoured tanks against IPOB, then where is the justification?
“This is a clear case of double standards. This is a Nigerian version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals suddenly became more equal than others. Our political and legal architectural foundations have been distorted.”
Meanwhile, The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Diocese, Most Rev. Adewale Martins, has expressed dismay over the killings in the country.
Martins, who spoke during his visit to the Satellite Town Deanery in Lagos, on Saturday, described the killing of innocent citizens as a sad situation.
“It is a state of anarchy. The APC should do something fast to take control of the situation and convince the masses that they are working and ensuring they actualise their campaign promises.”
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