Nigerian Islamist terror rejects amnesty offer

politics | Apr 13, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

 

The leader of Nigeria's radical Islamist group Boko Haram has rejected the idea of any potential amnesty deal, which the country's presidency said it would study in a bid to curb a bloody insurgency, in a statement obtained by AFP on April 11. Abubakar Shekau, who leads Boko Haram and has been designated a global terrorist by the United States, claims his group had "not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty."  This is despite numerous bombings, murders, and armed attacks attributed to the group that holds sway in northern Nigeria. "Surprisingly, the Nigerian Government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon," he said, listing what he described as the state's "atrocities" against Muslims.
 
According to the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, the audio recording in the Hausa language was distributed by email in a manner very similar to previous missives from Boko Haram. The voice on the recording resembled that of other statements made by Shekau.
 
President Goodluck Jonathan last week formed a commission to examine whether an amnesty should be proffered to the Islamists. So far, Boko Haram and Islamist terror has claimed more than 3,000 lives, including killings by the security services, according to CANAN.
 
Jonathan has come under intense pressure over the issue, with politicians from the country's violence-torn north as well as Nigeria's most-respected Muslim spiritual figure, the Sultan of Sokoto, who has called for amnesty. 
 
Goodluck's amnesty commission is reportedly to be comprised of security officials, political and community leaders from northern Nigeria, and others. It is expected to issue a report later this month. The move has been widely debated in Nigerian media in recent days. 
 
Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting to impose an Islamic state in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, thus raising geopolitical stakes. 
 
The group also claimed the February 19 kidnapping of a French family of seven over the border in Cameroon. The whereabouts of the French family remain unknown. 
 
Boko Haram's demands however have repeatedly shifted and the group is believed to include various factions in addition to imitators. 
 
Nigeria offered an amnesty to militants in the southern oil-producing Niger Delta region in 2009, which has been credited with greatly reducing unrest there, although oil theft has since flourished.  Violence blamed on Boko Haram, however, has been concentrated in the mostly Muslim north. 
 
Christian and Muslim civilians, the security services and other authorities have been among the group's victims. Christian churches have been firebombed, causing grisly deaths. Earlier this year, Muslim terrorists penetrated a university in Nigeria where they beheaded Christian students who refused to recant their faith.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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