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|Sultan Seeks Amnesty For Boko Haram Members by lovethokoh: 8:14am On Mar 06, 2013|
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar III, on Tuesday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to grant members of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram , “total amnesty” for the sake of peace in the country.
Abubakar, who by his position as Sultan, is the spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims, argued that a presidential amnesty to even one member of the sect, could make others to lay down their arms for peace to reign in the nation.
Blaming the security challenges confronting the country on injustice “meted out to the people,” he said the muslim community in Nigeria was concerned about the spate of bombings and killings by Boko Haram members, especially in the North.
Abubakar spoke at the meeting of the Central Council of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Kaduna.
He said as Jonathan prepares to visit Maiduguri, Borno State, where the sect has its root, he should consider the amnesty option as a surest way to make peace reign once again in the country.
“Ours is to advise and we will continue advising the government. If they do what they are supposed to do, that would be fine,” he said, adding that one of the primary duties of government was to ensure the protection of the citizenry.
But the Christian Association of Nigeria flayed the call by the Sultan, saying it was an indication that he knows the members of Boko Haram.
“Maybe the Sultan knows the Boko Haram members. If he is seeking amnesty for them, it shows that he knows them, because you cannot call for amnesty for people you don’t know,” the General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, said in an interview with The PUNCH.
Asake added, “All we have been asking is: who are these people? They are faceless people but if someone is calling for amnesty for them, it shows that such a person knows them and if he knows them and calling for amnesty, then there is a problem.
“If the Sultan knows the Boko Haram members, is he saying that Boko Haram members are fighting a just cause? Will they actually receive the amnesty wherever they are? Are they going to accept the amnesty since we don’t really know them? If we get answers to the above, CAN will be able to make further comment.”
Also, a CAN group in the North, operating under the aegis of “Tarayar Ekklisiyar Kristi A Nijeriya,” said the Sultan’s call should be treated with all seriousness.
The spokesperson for the President of TEKAN, Mr. Sunny Oibe, said, “If these Boko Haram members are faceless and now the Sultan of Sokoto is suggesting amnesty for them, it therefore means that he knows the people all these while but has refused to come out and tell us the truth. So, we now know who the Boko Haram members are and the Federal Government should be able to take a decisive action against them.
“If he doesn’t know them, how can he call for amnesty? The government should descend on all those who have been shielding Boko Haram members but now coming out stylishly to demand amnesty. The Federal Government now knows them and they know what to do with them, instead of playing a hypocritical game.”
The Sultan had also at the meeting debunked insinuations in some quarters that leaders, especially religious leaders, were not doing enough to halt the crises in the North and other parts of the country.
He claimed that religious leaders, especially Muslim leaders, had done well and would continue to call on the government to be just in whatever they did.
Abubakar said, “My dear brothers and sisters, we are facing a lot of challenges in this country and as Muslims, we owe it as a duty to everybody to ensure that we contribute positively to the peace and stability of this country.
“We have been talking and will continue talking. We will not get tired of talking until the Almighty Allah takes us away. Because we believe that it is only when we dialogue that issues will become clearer. I believe we are all patriotic; we all love ourselves and we all love our neighbours as Almighty Allah says.
“As Muslim leaders, we are very concerned and very worried about the way things are going on, especially the insecurity issue in this country. We have problem in the North; we have in the South -East; we have in the South- West and in the South – South and it remains the duty of the government to protect all of us.
“We have been hearing about terrorism everywhere and every day, I want to use this opportunity to say that we have heard in the news that Mr. President will be visiting Maiduguri in a couple of days.
“We want to use this opportunity to call on the government, especially Mr. President, to see how he can declare total amnesty for all combatants without thinking twice; that will make any other person who picks up arms to be termed as a criminal. If the amnesty is declared, the majority of those young men running would come out and embrace that amnesty and some of them have already come out because we have heard some of the stories in the newspapers.
“Even if it is one person and he denounces terrorism, it is the duty of the government to accept that one person and see how he can be used to reach others. Whether it is true or not, the government should accept that person first, evaluate him and see whether he is genuine or fake.
“On the accusation that we are not doing anything as leaders in the North, we have done a lot more than what any other person has done and I want to commend all of you for what you have been doing and we will continue to do so despite criticisms.
“We will continue to call on the government to be just in whatever they do because the bottom line of the problem facing us has been injustice meted out to people who are not supposed to. By the grace of God, we will continue talking to the government.”
The Sultan advised Muslim leaders not to propagate falsehood about polio since they knew next to nothing about the disease. He lamented that polio had remained a disturbing problem in the North, more so, when it had been eradicated in other climes.
Abubakar said, “We must never propagate falsehood about something if we don’t know as Muslim leaders; we should not come up with issues on the authenticity or otherwise of any drug.
“This issue of polio is disturbing us. Polio has been eradicated except us in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we want to be out of the group by the grace of God this year ending. We will show our total commitment to polio eradication in Nigeria and we will continue to work with government at all levels to ensure polio is eradicated in this country.”
During the meeting, Kaduna State Governor Mukhtar Yero stressed the need for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians irrespective of their religions and urged Muslim leaders to preach peace always.
He also called on Muslim leaders to support his administration in ensuring that the state and the entire country remained peaceful and stable “for us to carry out the transformation agenda which we have mapped out for the benefit of our people.”
“As leaders, you should always preach to your followers on the need for peaceful co-existence with adherents of other religions. Our noble Prophet Muhammad lived peacefully during his lifetime with people of other faiths. He preached peace and lived in peace; it is therefore obligatory on all of us to live by his teachings and deeds,” the governor said.
Also, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Pate, said the Federal Government was committed to the eradication of polio, adding that about 98 per cent of children affected by the disease in the country were Muslims.
Pate noted that the few areas where the virus had continued to occur were places where people, for one reason or the other, resisted the immunisation of their children.
He said, “We (Federal Government) have done all we could with the state and local governments and we believe the media has a role to play in educating members of the public on the need for immunisation.
“Mr. President is committed to this fight and eradicating all these diseases among our children and women and we are fighting to achieve that. Those that polio are presently affecting in this country, about 98 per cent of them have Muslim names.”
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