News / Africa

Does Nigeria Need Niger-Delta Style Amnesty for Boko Haram?

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, (File).
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, (File).

In Nigeria, a presidential committee on terrorist attacks says the government should consider offering an amnesty to Islamist militants in the north similar to an amnesty ended separate violence in the oil-rich south. 

Former militants in the Niger Delta swear allegiance to the federal government at the close of a retraining program that ended years of violence in the south.

Sabotage and attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta cut Nigerian oil production by one-quarter in 2008. The government of then-president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua negotiated an amnesty for fighters who turned in their weapons and joined camps where they were given a stipend and job training.

Instrumental in that deal was Yar'Adua's vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta.  The amnesty's success was central to this year's presidential campaign by Jonathan, who now faces his administration's biggest security challenge: Islamist militants from Boko Haram.

Security officials say the group is responsible for coordinated attacks on police stations, churches and an army base in small towns across northern Nigeria, earlier this month, that killed more than 100 people.

Boko Haram says it is fighting for the establishment of a separate Sharia-led nation in northern Nigeria and recognizes neither the constitution nor President Jonathan's election.

The president named a committee to consider opening talks with the group.  Among its recommendations is an amnesty for Boko Haram militants who renounce violence and give up their guns.

Borno State Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume was on that committee. “We made some far-reaching and strong recommendations which we feel, if implemented, will go a long way to solving the problem.," he said. "Throughout our committee work and our interaction with various stakeholders we discovered, one, that dialogue in this case is very necessary.”

So how might a Niger-Delta-style amnesty work for Boko Haram?

Niger Delta attorney Ignatius Onwuemele says the situations are entirely different. “Boko Haram is quite different because they are an amorphous group. They are faceless. Who are you going to discuss with? Because in terms of Niger Delta militants, the government was able to negotiate with a group, at least an identifiable group. But these ones you can't identify them,” he stated.

Edward Oforomeh is a retired police officer in the Delta State city of Warri. He says granting amnesty to Boko Haram would be far more complicated than the Niger Delta because one of Boko Haram's principles is a rejection of Western education.

“A person who does not believe in Western education, if you want to grant him amnesty, what do you give him? Are you going to build more mosques for him? How do you train him?” Oforomeh asked.

Niger Delta militants fought for greater investment and environmental responsibility in the oil producing region. Oforomeh says most Nigerians do not know what Boko Haram wants. “They should come out, dialogue with them, discuss with them because everybody is now living in fear. Everyone is living in fear. You don't know who is next. Dialogue with them so that we know their demands and see if they will be able to meet those demands,” he noted.

Attorney Onwuemele says the desperation of Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram fighters are both driven by underlying social weakness in Nigeria that cannot be solved by amnesties alone. "The whole things is a fallout of the societal foibles of unemployment, corruption, the infrastructural decay.  We have to checkmate [overcome] this issue of unemployment," he said. "And this issue of decay of our educational system, the decay in the health sector.”

President Jonathan says Nigeria's character is being tested by Boko Haram's “unnecessary killing and destruction.” Moving away from recommendations of an amnesty and dialogue with the group, the president says Nigeria's military is taking a “rapid and robust” approach to “fight and defeat that evil.”





You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid