PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan may have bowed to pressure from the North over the declaration of amnesty for the Boko Haram sect members, as the Federal Government on Thursday has set up a committee to explore the possibility of the initiative.
Nigerian Tribune learnt on Thursday that the special committee comprised members of the security agencies familiar with the intricacies of amnesty programme.
The committee was given a fortnight to review and make recommendations on the call for amnesty, especially from the northern part of the country.
Should the committee recommend the declaration of amnesty, it is also expected to come up with ways to implement it by the Federal Government, so as to bring an end to the insurgency.
A source, who did not want to be mamed, confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja that the committee would work closely with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Jonathan met with members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in State House on Wednesday night as he continues the search for solution to the lingering Boko Haram insurgency in parts of the north.
The meeting was followed by that of the National Security Council presided over by him on Thursday also in the State House, called ostensibly to discuss some of the decisions arising from the meeting with the northern elders.
The nearly four hour long-meeting with the elders which was said to have been at the instance of the president was said to have centred mainly on the push for declaration of amnesty by northern leaders led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar even though other issues of national concern also came up for deliberation.
The Nigerian Tribune gathered that Jonathan assured the elders that he was open to the idea of granting amnesty to members of the radical islamic sect but insisted that they should be encouraged to unmask themselves and embrace dialogue.
Jonathan had previously posited during his recent visits to Yobe and Borno States that in order to declare amnesty for the insurgents, they must first come out of hiding as he was not in a position to give amnesty to “ghosts.”
It would appear that following Wednesday’s meeting that he is now prepared to soften his stance and give an opportunity for the exploration of the amnesty initiative even before the full unmasking of those behind the Boko Haram terrorist activities in the country.
It was learnt that he had resolved to table the matter before the nation’s security chiefs to determine the feasibility of such declaration before the insurgents lay down their arms.
Former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof Ango Abdullahi, who attended the meeting and spoke to State House correspondents after, confirmed that the president showed inclination towards the amnesty declaration.
He revealed that the northern elders pressed for the amnesty initiative to form part of the efforts to resolve the security situation in the country.
According to him, “What we discussed is that general opinion in the country is that amnesty should be factored into all effort made by government to overcome the security challenges all over the country or in most parts of the North.
“Fortunately the president is already thinking hard on it. And he assured us that there is a special meeting on the matter and that I’m sure that tomorrow (Thursday) something substantial will come out of that meeting.”
He explained that the meeting was a follow-up visit to the one held in May last year on the invitation of President.
According to him, “We submitted a memorandum to him and he promised that he was going to look at our submission and he will call us back to further dialogue on the issues we have raised in our submission. And this is precisely what transpired today.”
JD:I have been vindicated.when the President announced in Borno that there was not going to be any amnesty for boko haram i had said that what he should have said is that there could be a possibility and that he would cross the bridge when he gets there.Once again,the presidency has had to backtrack and this is one time too many.Notwithstanding that one hails the initiative in efforts to bringing peace to the land,it however gives an inclination that there might be no clear cut strategy in handling indeed this and other crisis in the land.Another reason for change in 2015;or even before.