News / Africa

Nigerians Debate Amnesty for Boko Haram

Ex-militants pose for a group photograph in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria, April 3, 2011.Ex-militants pose for a group photograph in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria, April 3, 2011.
x
Ex-militants pose for a group photograph in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria, April 3, 2011.
Ex-militants pose for a group photograph in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria, April 3, 2011.
Heather Murdock
As Nigerians debate the possibility of granting amnesty to militants in Nigeria’s north, the country marks the fourth anniversary of its amnesty program for militants in the South. Some former militants in the Niger Delta region are opening small businesses while others are bitterly disappointed, saying without change, renewed violence is inevitable.
 
On some Nigerian newspaper websites, there are polls asking users if they believe the government should offer amnesty to Boko Haram militants, a group blamed for thousands of deaths in the past four years. On one such website, the largest voter block was for this option: “No, they have killed innocents and should be brought to book.”  

For many Nigerians, though, the idea of peace through amnesty has been tested at least somewhat successfully in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta, where militants waged war against the government and oil companies for several years.

Niger Delta program

Analysts are quick to point out that the conflict in the Niger Delta was very different from the current Boko Haram conflict. Boko Haram is a shadowy militant group that says it’s fighting for Islamic law and to free its imprisoned members. The Niger Delta militancy was an offshoot of a popular movement calling for the equitable distribution of oil wealth.  

In the Niger Delta, however, some former militants say the amnesty program is preventing another uprising.
 
Epipade Kemepade, 30, used to be in charge of dispatching weapons among his fellow militants, or “freedom fighters” as they called themselves. In 2009, along with tens of thousands of other young men, he turned in his gun in exchange for the promise of job training and slightly more than $400 a month.
 
Now, he’s a trained welder and has his own shop. He also is among 300 former militants who were promised new equipment a month ago to grow their businesses, but it hasn’t yet arrived.
 
On the other hand, other former militants say Kemepade is the exception and most of the “boys” - as they are known locally - are returning from training to find no jobs and no capital to start a business.  

Remaining issues

Charles Efenudu said that after he turned in his weapons he was trained in business and was told he could open a small grocery store when he completed the course. That was two years ago, and he continues to trudge out to the cassava fields, making barely enough money to survive.
 
“I’m trying to work on a farm to succeed by myself because the federal government is not doing any good about our training. So we just sit at home doing nothing,” said Efenudu.

Perye Williams is a lawyer and an activist in Warri, an oil town that is technically at peace, but tensions and crime levels are noticeably high. He said the amnesty program by nature doesn’t address the underlying causes of the conflict, which echo what some say are the underlying causes of the Boko Haram conflict in the north: extreme poverty, underdevelopment, lack of jobs and schools, and the general feeling that the government doesn’t care to fix any of it.
 
He said the amnesty program plays favorites and ultimately won’t maintain the peace.
 
“It still boils down to the Nigerian system of nepotism and favoritism. Provide good roads. Provide electricity. Provide viable water. Provide hospitals in these communities and every other thing will be taken care of by the people,” said Williams.

In the north, Boko Haram members have flatly rejected the idea of accepting amnesty, saying the government should be asking for amnesty from them.  

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 18, 2013 10:13 AM
Nigeria is always getting it wrong. Amnesty: is it for ghosts? There is no need to pamper a criminal. Amnesty to Niger Delta militants came because the people were human beings with tenable targets. Boko haram is a ghost with untenable targets - unless those supporting amnesty for it give tacit support to the division of the country. It is this ambiguity in what the politicians want that made the president announce a partial state of emergency in three states.The right thing should have been a total state of emergency setting aside everything devoid of a police military state. That would have made the governors sit up if they know that their jobs are on the line for insecurity in their areas of jurisdiction. A partial state of emergency is bound to achieve little especially with reports of politicians' involvement in the boko haram funding and protection - even to the point some boko haram operatives have been found in homes of former and serving governors and legislators. And in a country where the president can only give classroom instructions without bite, a total state of emergency would have been an assurance of hope for the future that after all the president can still do something to safeguard the citizenry. But with the politicians in power calling the shots, the military will achieve very little when all they have to do is chase the shadows while the politicians and their boko haram supporters only need to change their strategy. We live to see how well this spineless approach to settling the terrorist situation will go to restore hope to the Nigerians living in those areas so affected.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid