Premium Times (Abuja)

7 March 2013

Nigeria: Jonathan Visits Yobe, Says No Amnesty for Boko Haram

Photo: Daily Trust
Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that there would be no amnesty for members of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, unless they show themselves physically for negotiations.

He was speaking at a town hall meeting, Thursday, during his visit to Damaturu, Yobe State, one of the areas worst hit by terror attacks.

The President said such a gesture would not be possible for now because members of the group have remained "ghosts" with no one coming forward to admit membership of the sect.

"You cannot declare amnesty for ghosts. Boko Haram still operates like ghosts. So, you can't talk about amnesty for Boko Haram now until you see the people you are discussing with," he said.

Mr. Jonathan said it was possible for late President Umaru Yar'Adua to grant the militants in Niger Delta amnesty because they showed up when he invited them.

"When you call the Niger Delta militants, they will come; but nobody has agreed that he is Boko Haram; no one has come forward. If amnesty can solve the situation, then no problem, but nobody has come forward to make himself visible", the president said.

The president's view was in tandem with that of the Christian Association of Nigeria, but opposed to that of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar, who called for amnesty for the insurgents.

The president excused his late visit to the state saying his trip was planned before the appointment of the present National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, speaking earlier during the President's meeting with emirs and traditional rulers from the state, disclosed that 209 public schools, vehicles and property worth N2.5 billion, and private buildings estimated at N629 million have been destroyed by the insurgents.

The governor said over 150 patrol vehicles have also been donated to the security personnel.

Mr. Gaidam added that his government has spent about N4.8 billion to contain the terrorist insurgency, spending an average of N200 million monthly to maintain the operations of security personnel fighting the insurgents.

He asked the president to provide the state with intervention funds because the cost of funding the security crisis weighs heavily on the state's resources.

"It is in this regard that I make a special appeal to Mr. President to come to our rescue by allocating intervention funds to the state government to enable it cope with the current security challenges", he said .

The governor also said though there is a need to upscale the modernity of the equipment and methods of the nation's security agencies to tackle the prevailing challenge.

"The ultimate strategy of addressing its remote causes through poverty alleviation, eradication of ignorance, entrenchment of social inclusion and good governance, however, appear to be the only panacea," he said.

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