Boko Haram: Why NSA Dasuki, other security chiefs vote for amnesty

Political considerations, more than any other factor, swayed the Federal Government to rethink its stance on granting amnesty to members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, according to fresh facts yesterday.
Intelligence reports at government’s disposal are said to have suggested political motives behind the sect’s activities.
Government, on Thursday, set up a National Security Council committee to consider the various requests for amnesty for the sect.
The committee has two weeks to recommend the feasibility of granting or not granting amnesty and what the modalities should be if it must be granted.
The setting up of the committee was preceded by a meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and security chiefs.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), and other security chiefs, sources said , opted for amnesty after those expected to assist in tackling the security challenge in the country began campaigning for amnesty.
The concern in government circle is that the security challenge was getting out of hand and a drastic action must be taken to check the situation.
And as the modalities for the amnesty are being worked out, there were signs last night that the proposed amnesty may favour some detained Boko Haram leaders like Kabiru Sokoto.
A reliable source familiar with the development told The Nation that government had to bow to pressure from the North on the need to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members.
His words: “Immediately after he was appointed, the NSA went round the flashpoints and the consensus of most Northern leaders was that dialogue and amnesty would solve the Boko Haram crisis.
“Most Northern leaders kicked against the use of force. They said they would not intervene in the security challenges without concrete commitment from President Goodluck Jonathan to give dialogue and amnesty a chance. They had predicted escalation of the sectarian violence if force was used.
“The NSA actually recommended dialogue and amnesty in his report, but it took the government a long time to study the report. And with the calls for amnesty by some Northern emirs, political and religious leaders, the government has now decided to explore this option.”
Another source said: “Intelligence reports also indicated that the Boko Haram crisis might be politically induced. Although this theory was initially dismissed, experience of some countries like Algeria and Somalia did not rule it out.
“So, outside the military solution, the President and the security chiefs opted to try amnesty which is a political alternative. The assumption is that even when Nigeria went through the civil war between 1967 and 1970, there were rooms for negotiation between the Federal Government and the Republic of Biafra .”
But a third source said the likelihood of the security challenges getting out of hand made amnesty solution imperative.
It was learnt that apart from the sophistication of the Boko Haram, the government was disturbed that the consequences of violent attacks by the sect were dividing the nation along ethnic and religious lines.
The source added: “There were signs that things were getting out of hand, if not nipped in the bud. The government was concerned that selective attacks by the sect could provoke ethnic and religious conflicts in the country.
“So, while the JTF and others had been trying to curtail Boko Haram, the probability of ethno-religious conflicts was also apparent. To avert such deterioration, amnesty option came in handy. The popularity of the agitation for amnesty made the government to buy into it.”
It was learnt that the modalities for the amnesty were being worked out by the intra-security council committee.
According to investigation, the amnesty committee raised by the President may “co-opt” a few others in the public service whose ministries or agencies might assist in working out the modalities.
It was gathered that the amnesty committee might meet with stakeholders who had canvassed for the application of this principle to resolve the Boko Haram crisis.
It was learnt that options before the government include total amnesty with freedom for all detained Boko leaders like Kabiru Sokoto and attendant rehabilitation; conditional amnesty to pave the way for mediation and dialogue with Boko Haram leaders; and amnesty which would guarantee ceasefire by both parties and reconciliation of all.
A source said: “I think the NSA and others in the amnesty committee are going to discuss with the Attorney-General of the Federation on the modalities and legal framework to back these up.
“If the government opts for total amnesty, Boko Haram leaders, like Kabiru Sokoto, in detention might regain freedom to pave the way for reunification, reintegration and rehabilitation of sect members.
“Some government officers, whose ministries or agencies are strategic to the amnesty programme, might also be co-opted.
“All things being equal, the committee should be able to meet the two-week target.”
Also, there were indications yesterday that some Northern emirs and leaders might seek audience with Boko Haram leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, after the proclamation of amnesty for the sect by President Goodluck Jonathan.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Having made a strong case for amnesty, Northern emirs and leaders will also play a vital role in bringing the sect leaders, including Imam Abubakar Shekau, to the peace table for dialogue.
“The North has suffered so much from the Boko Haram crisis such that the leaders are prepared to sacrifice to end the security challenge.
“The need to restore the North to its peaceful state informed the agitation of the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, for amnesty. He must have done his homework before sticking out his neck for such a waiver.
“I am aware that Northern emirs and leaders might open up talks with the sect leaders after the proclamation of amnesty by the President, if the committee set up sees merit in such a policy.
“Already, one or two Northern governors have had some talks with Boko Haram leaders in Saudi Arabia.”
http://thenationonlineng.net/new/news/boko-haram-why-nsa-dasuki-other-security-chiefs-vote-for-amnesty/

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