Vanguard (Lagos)

15 April 2013

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Collapse of Amnesty May Lead to Civil War, Bola Ajibola Warns

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram.

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, has expressed fears that the collapse of the ongoing amnesty plans for Boko Haram members may snowball into another civil war even as the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to take steps to crush the sect following its rejection of amnesty's plan.

Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 northern States has rebuked the Ja'amatu Nasril Islam, JNI, - the apex muslim body in the country - for claiming that prominent Christian leaders and majority of Christians back amnesty for Boko Haram

Prince Ajibola, in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, weekend, called on Boko Haram leadership to see reasons in embracing peace and urged the government not to relent on its already ongoing effort at resolving the security risks the Boko Haram menace had posed to the nation over the years.

The retired Judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, who had always insisted that dialogue was catalyst to resolving conflict of any nature, applauded President Goodluck in his latest move to grant amnesty to the sect members but said that the President, in doing that, should ensure that such amnesty be preceded with dialogue.

Amnesty should be preceded with dialogue

His words: "That is a prerequisite. During that dialogue, both parties must be allowed to air their views as to the reason for the grouse and cause which resulted in the killings. Book Haram members have killed a lot of people and government troops, JTF, has also killed a lot of people, especially on the Boko Haram side.

"It is now the time that they should sit on the table and discuss once and for all, and brainstorm on how they could handle the whole matter. They must do that, otherwise, the situation will continue to deteriorate and people will continue to be killed. During the Biafra time, there was the Aburi Accord which collapsed and the civil war started. The Civil War was on for about three years.

At the end of the whole matter, it ended up being resolved in a peaceful way. We should not allow that kind of thing to happen again. We saw it coming even in the days of Bakassi and we tried our best to avoid it because, other powerful nations of the world were ready and prepared to team up with Cameroun against us. We cannot afford to see this thing lead us into Second Nigerian Civil War. We have had enough of that.

CAN's cries of Islamisation unnecessary distraction

Ajibola, also cautioned the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, over its recent cry of Islamisation of the country through the Boko Haram describing it as unnecessary distraction. He, however, assured the Christian community and other concerned Nigerians that the Boko Haram had no choice than to embrace the ongoing peace move by the government

"The Boko Haram will have no choice than to accept the olive branch offered by the government. Despite their rejection of it, government should still get both parties to the table. It may not be easy but it is important for restoration of peace and stability. The government must look into their grievances and they must come to an understanding.

"Meanwhile, when we are taking the pains to see how we can solve a national problem that affects all of us, with due respect, I want to warn that people should stop making statements capable of diverting our attention. I am saying this because not only is it unconstitutional to Islamise or Christianise Nigeria but also, it is not possible to do that".

Also, with the rejection of the planned amnesty by the Boko Haram sect, the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, YOWICAN, has asked the Federal Government to take steps to crush the menace posed by the group.

In doing so, YOWICAN wants the government to make use of the various intelligence reports at its disposal to move against the deadly sect in the interest of Nigeria.

The group insisted that granting amnesty to the Islamic sect was potentially dangerous to Nigerians as it amounted to a clarion call to more terrorism in Nigeria.

The President of YOWICAN, Dr Simon Dolly, who made the call in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, noted that the issue of Boko Haram had been politicized.

Dolly said: "This is politics. They are playing politics with human lives. Government should be sincere with the issue. Government should work for a possible solution to the Boko Haram problem since it is armed with intelligence reports on this. They should make use of it. How can they come to the end of the problem when you have security report and you don't work with it".

Speaking earlier at a press conference in Abuja, Dolly explained that the Federal Government should prepare to face more deadly and sophisticated response, if amnesty is granted to the sect.

He said that granting amnesty to Boko Haram would have given more muscles to the sect to deal with Christian youths who in the north had all along been marginalized by the same advocates of the pardon.

Dolly appealed to President Jonathan not to be cowed by politicians and a few misfits in the north, who are attempting to use the Boko Haram insurgency as a bait to correct what they had failed to do while they were in power.

He noted that those citing injustice, poverty and unemployment to justify the violence by the sect were not sincere, wondering if poverty and unemployment were peculiar to Muslims in the north.

He asked, "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 complaints against the Federal Government, if tomorrow they pick up arms to advance their causes?

"The Federal Government should be prepared to face perhaps more deadly and sophisticated response, if amnesty is granted to wilful 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".

He also maintained that "it is injustice if Almajiri schools are built with taxpayers money for the Muslim youth" and called for the immediate establishment of 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," he said.

Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 northern States, including Abuja, yesterday rebuked the Ja'amatu Nasril Islam, JNI, - the apex muslim body in the country - for claiming that prominent Nigerian Christian leaders and majority of Nigerian Christians backed amnesty for Boko Haram

CAN also debunked claims by the JNI that more Muslims suffered casualties than non-Muslims

Last Friday, the Secretary General of the JNI, Dr. Khalid Aliyu had addressed newsmen in Kaduna where he upraided the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oristejafor for protesting the granting of amnesty for Boko Haram, claiming that majority of Christians and prominent Christian clerics supported amnesty for Boko Haram.

The JNI had also claimed that Muslims suffered more attacks and deaths in the hands of Boko Haram, than non-Muslims.

But the Spokesman of Northern CAN, Mr. Sunday Oibe on behalf of the Association faulted the claims of the JNI.

Said Oibe: "Now we can understand the pain the JNI and others who are agitating for amnesty to these murderers who have no value for human life are feeling. These people are not in touch with Boko Haram and yet they want to confuse President Goodluck Jonathan so that he will give them money to go and distribute and share. But unfortunately for them, the Boko Haram has shot them on the leg by rejecting the amnesty.

"JNI is not in a position to tell us who is a prominent Christian leader. In Nigeria, it is only pastor Ayo that is the President of CAN and all Christians in Nigeria are answerable to CAN, just like the Muslims have their JNI and the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs which are both headed by the Sultan of Sokoto and every Muslim is answerable to them.

"They should stop blaming the President of CAN because they are the ones that are confusing the Federal Government. Where was JNI when we were crying about the merciless killing of Christians and the bombing of churches by this terrorist group?

"How can they call people like Paul Unongo a Christina leader? Which Church does he attend? Paul Unongo is a politician and is never known to be a Christian outside his membership of Rosicrucian Order" Oibe said

"It is a pity that JNI is claiming that they have suffered more casualty. Can they point at a mosque that was bombed by Boko Haram and Muslims killed while worshiping? That is a lie that can never stand over time", he added.

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