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Author Topic: There is nothing wrong in amnesty for Boko Haram members —Niger CAN chairman  (Read 971 times)

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Chairman of the Niger State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Musa Dada, speaks with ADELOWO OLADIPO on issues affecting the polity, including the Boko Haram question vis-a-vis the proposal of the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the sect. Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the debate on amnesty for members of Boko Haram and the reported rejection of the Federal Government’s offer by the group?

To me, granting of amnesty to the Boko Haram sect members by the government is a step in the right direction, but you can only grant amnesty to an individual or a group of people that you know. However, the government should go after whatever can promote peace and I think that is what they are trying to do. But the question is: who are the members of Boko Haram and where are they? That is a problem. There seems to be different groups of Boko Haram, and if the government will be granting amnesty, to whom among the groups? But generally, there is nothing wrong if the government decides to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members.

What should the government do with victims of the violence of Boko Haram?
The government should include them in the agenda of the committee which has been set up. That should be one of the issues they will discuss and they should come out with acceptable recommendations on compensations for the victims. Some of the victims have returned to their states of origin and elsewhere where there is a semblance of peace, but they are dying of hunger because their means of livelihood have been destroyed.

What is your take on the reported threat of retaliation against Muslims by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)?

We pray that MEND will not start such a thing because that may lead to further destruction of the nation. If the Christians had chosen to have revenge for the unprovoked attacks on them by Boko Haram, we would have done that by now, but in spite of all these things that happened, we followed what the Bible says; that we should seek peace with all men. Christians are not afraid of revenge, but we are for the peaceful co-existence of the citizenry because war never brings peace. It is good for aggrieved people to engage in dialogue with perceived aggressors. Some people had expected us to take up arms and revenge, but we held back because that would not help our country. So, if MEND says they want to do that, to me, they are not doing it for Christians; they are not acting on our behalf because we are for peace, not war.

How would you describe the roles played by governors of the affected states throughout the Boko Haram insurgency, particularly Governor Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State?

To be sincere, the Chief Servant has always made it clear that he has zero tolerance for the senseless attacks on innocent citizens. It was the position he adopted in his own state that he was trying to project in other states of the region as the chairman of the northern states Governors Forum. I think he is doing a good job, compared to other governors, because he does not show any form of discrimination. We are not saying that he has done everything we need or want him to do, but he has done most of it.

Which areas would you want him to improve on?
Some years back, the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge in primary and secondary schools was a problem because in Niger State, there was no employment of CRK teachers. But when he assumed power, we took it up with him and by God’s grace, very soon, at the secondary school level, the appointment letters of the teachers who had applied to teach CRK will come out because we have done what were asked to do.

What are the challenges confronting the state chapter of the CAN?
That big challenge in the state chapter of CAN is lack of unity of purpose.

You said that people that were affected in the Boko Haram attacks should be included in the Federal Government’s committee on Boko Haram amnesty programme. How many casualties did CAN suffer in the state?
Well, thank God, Boko Haram has never struck in Minna, the state capital because God will not allow it. But before Boko Haram, there were some problems here and there, especially in Kontagora, where people were attacked in their houses or their churches burnt down. A recent incident was a post-election violence. That was a time Christians were terribly attacked and I have a record that shows that about 25 churches were either burnt or vandalised, apart from houses that were affected. I frowned on the Federal Government for their inability to come to the aid of the victims of a post-election crisis in 2011. A presidential committee was set up, they went round the states that were affected, including Niger and the committee was headed by our own man, Sheik Ahmed Lemu and he has credibility. He submitted his report and I remember that he said he hoped that this report would not be dropped in the dustbin. As of today, some of the victims have died, while others have been relocated to their home states and we are worried. In fact, the question that I have always asked is: what happened to the report of the presidential committee on post-election violence?

What is the estimated cost of damage because a report was submitted and what was the total amount involved?

I don’t know about that of the Federal Government, neither do I know about that of Niger State government too, but the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria has its own report and it is not something I will reveal to you now because I am still waiting for the time they would come out for the payment of compensation to the victims and see whether they are honest or not. The Federal Government should urgently come out with the report of its committee on the 2011 post-election violence, as well as implement the recommendations of the committee.

Are you satisfied with President Gooduck Jonathan’s efforts at bringing peace to the country, especially as regards his offer of amnesty to members of Boko Haram?

Well, I will say yes, because there are some things you can do within a short time and there are others that would take some time to be achieved. You may cause a problem in less than a minute, but solving that problem may take years. The president may have his own challenges, but I think he is trying. There might have been some people who are pushing him to do some things which he is not willing to do and there are also some people that are stopping him from doing some things he wants to see done.

Adewale Odubiyi
Owner, Nigeria Oil & Gas Forum

Nigeria Oil & Gas Forum


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