Shettima Renews Amnesty Call for Boko Haram

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Governor Kashim Shettima renews his call for amnesty for members of Boko Haram sect who may want to drop their arms and embrace peace

DETERMINED to end Boko Haram insurgency, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, on Sunday, July 12, reiterated his call for the granting of pardon through amnesty programme for members of the Islamic sect.

Shettima noted the recent attempt by 16 members of the terror group to renounce “the murderous ideology is one key proof that an amnesty programme targeted at creating an exit window for forcefully conscripted members is capable of reducing the number of Boko Haram fighters.”

The governor shared his thought during an interactive session with selected journalists in Abuja. Explaining further, Isa Guasau, special adviser to the governor on communications and strategy, said Shettima’s call was scientific and had been vindicated by a very desperate effort of Boko Haram leaders to stop their fighters from leaving their fold when a group of 16 members renounced the sect’s ideology in Borno State following which they were later killed by the sect’s leaders.

Gusau said: “Governor Kashim Shettima was misunderstood by many Nigerians when in his May 29 inaugural remarks revisited his stance on the need to apply a political solution to fighting the Boko Haram by way of granting a window to admit those willing to surrender their arms and renounce the Boko Haram ideology.

“Shettima has held this position from his campaign days ahead of the 2011 elections for his first term. He had always advocated a combination of three approaches, which are: the military which is what we have in place, an economic approach which is aimed at providing jobs for people and discourage citizens that Boko Haram terrorists are recruiting.”

Gusau said numerous arrests that were made by the military had shown that the economy played a vital role in breeding insurgency. He said the governor’s third approach at resolving the Boko Haram insurgency and perhaps the most contentious was the political approach which would mean pardon for terrorists who might be willing to drop their arms and embrace peace.

He said: “It is important to note that the governor has always advocated that the three approaches should be applied together not exclusively. However, the amnesty issue has been the controversial one. The governor is not really talking about dialogue as a start, what he is advocating is to create an opening for those ready to abandon the sect to be able to do so freely, so that the sect can be broken.

“He is very particular about hundreds, if not thousands of members that were conscripted or forced to join the sect and became killers against their wish. If attacks on all communities can be efficiently done, then there wouldn’t be need for any debate on amnesty but we all have seen that many communities have continued to suffer from these attacks because the communities are so much, not only in Borno but round Nigeria and we don’t have the right proportion of security personnel to secure all communities.”

Governor Shettima had during his inauguration ceremony for another term in office on Friday, May 29, said it had become imperative that willing members of the Boko Haram sect ready to surrender be given amnesty.

According to the governor those who would want to come out of the bush must be given the opportunity to be de-radicalised and rehabilitated so as to discontinue the endless destruction of lives and property in his state.

He lamented that the Goodluck Jonathan administration did too little to counter the Boko Haram threats because of a misplaced notion that the terrorist group was a creation of the political and other elites in the North to ruin his administration. “They, therefore, (Jonathan) did only the barest and most perfunctory, to stem the problem. Meanwhile, our people suffered and our communities were systematically laid to waste,” Shettima said.

— Jul 13, 2015 @ 12:35 GMT

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