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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.