Sultan advocates amnesty for Boko Haram

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Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar in Kaduna on Tuesday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to grant amnesty to members of Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, as a way of ending the insurgency of the group which has resulted into the death of thousands of Nigerians.

The Sultan, who is widely regarded as the leader of Nigerian Muslims as the President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs said this at the central council meeting of Jamatrul Nasril Islam (JNI) in Kaduna on Tuesday.

Speaking to prominent Islamic scholars and Northern leaders who filled the conference hall of the JNI headquarters in Kaduna, the Sultan added that such amnesty will stop the activities of the deadly sect, just as it did with the militancy in the Niger Delta.

“The type of amnesty that ended militants’ unrest in the Niger Delta will be suitable for the North. Initiating a restoration and rehabilitation programme that would integrate the terrorists into the larger society will pave way for dialogue rather than engaging them in an endless war,” the Sultan who decried increasing bomb attacks and kidnappings by terrorists in parts of the country said.

He added that such amnesty will enable the sect members lay down their arms rather than the on-going military tactics by the massive deployment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to the northern part of the country.

The Islamic leader attributed the security challenges being faced in the country to injustice against the masses by political leaders.

This, he said, has now resulted in some sections of the society taking up of arms out of frustration.

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The Federal Government has been ambivalent on suggestions that it should dialogue with the insurgent group with claims that no credible representative of the group has come forward for negotiations.

In a video released some days ago, Mallam Abubakar Shekau, regarded as the leader of Boko Haram also denied that his group is engaged in any form of discussion with the Nigeria government.

International human rights bodies estimated that about 3000 lives have been lost to activities of Boko Haram since 2009.

Last week, the group claim that it was behind the kidnapping of seven members of a French family at the border with Cameroun.

It was the first time the group will claim that it engaged in kidnapping.

Also speaking against the background of assassination of some polio workers recently in Kano State, the Sultan also re-affirmed the commitment of to continue to work with the Ministry of Health and other government agencies to ensure that children in the region are immunised against deadly diseases.

While condemning recent killings of polio vaccinators in Kano, Mohammed Pate, Minister of State for Health, said most parents in the North are still not bringing their children forward for polio immunization.

He said this has hindered efforts to eradicate polio in the country making Nigeria one of the three countries where polio still exists in the world.