Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, once threw his weight behind the proposed amnesty for Islamic sect, Boko Haram, commending the government for setting up a committee to look into the feasibility of granting amnesty to the sect’s members.
According to Buhari, who was the national leader of the then Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), he was in support of any move to bring about peace in the country.
He disclosed this after condoling with the matriarch of the Awolowo family, Mrs. HID Awolowo in Ikenne over the death of her son, Chief Oluwole Awolowo.
“It is good that they have set up a committee on amnesty. I have not seen the terms of reference but, it is a right step in the right direction.
“This is not the first time amnesty would be given to a violent group, you remember it happened in the time of (Umaru) Yar’Adua when he granted amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta. Whatever that would bring us peace as a society, we should do it,” Buhari had said.
Buhari in 2013 also faulted the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration for clamping down on the insurgents.
He accused the government of killing and destroying their houses while the Niger Delta militants were given special treatment by the government.
Buhari said unlike the special treatment given to the Niger Delta militants by the Jonathan government, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished by the government.
“What is responsible for the security situation in the country is caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants. Every Nigerian that is familiar with what is happening knows this. The Niger Delta militants started it all.
“What happened is that the governors of the Niger Delta region at that time wanted to win their elections. So, they recruited the youths and gave them guns and bullets and used them against their opponents to win elections by force.
“After the elections were over, they asked the boys to return the guns; the boys refused to return the guns. Because of that, the allowance that was being given to the youths by the governors during that time was stopped.
“The youths resorted to kidnapping oil workers and were collecting dollars as ransom. Now a boy of 18 to 20 years was getting about 500 dollars in a week, why will he go to school and spend 20 years to study and then come back and get employed by the government to be paid N100,000 a month, that is if he is lucky to get employment.
“So, kidnapping becomes very rampant in the South-South and the South-East. They kidnapped people and were collecting money.
“How did Boko Haram start? We know that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf started his militancy and the police couldn’t control them and the army was invited. He was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.
“The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses.
“Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today. You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an aeroplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the North were being killed and their houses were being demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice,” Buhari had said.