CAN condemns amnesty clamour

On a day President Goodluck Jonathan met with Service Chiefs to appraise the amnesty committee’s report, the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) yesterday urged the authorities not to pardon members of the Boko Haram sect.

The Association described the group as “murderous and blood thirsty”.

CAN advised the President to disregard the Northern Elders pushing for amnesty to avoid a crisis.

Northern Elders, CAN said, are pushing for amnesty to enable Boko Haram members reap where they did not sow.CAN General Secretary Rev. Musa Asake, spoke at a news conference in Abuja. He berated the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI) for condemning the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor for saying that: “amnesty to mass murderers foisting their belief on others, cannot precede reconciliation, compensation, restitution and other amelioration steps to people and institutions hurt in the Jihad of Boko Haram.”

Asake also warned the JNI to stop saying that Muslims are the major victims of Boko Haram adding that: “but the truth remains that Christians are the major and main, if not sole target of Boko Haram”.

In the last three years, besides the isolated bombings in Abuja, Asake said the Boko Haram has bombed over 200 churches and killed over 1, 250 Christians worshipping in their churches.

Asake stated that while CAN respect the right of Cardinal John Onaiykan, and Bishop Mathew Kukah on amnesty for Boko Haram, they cannot speak for CAN.

He said: “Only CAN is vested with such powers. Cardinal John Onaiykan and Bishop Mathew Kukah do not speak for Nigerian Christians, not even for CAN in any of the 19 Northern states.

“We call on President Goodluck Jonathan to, as a matter of urgency, dismiss the whole idea of amnesty for an unrepentant group because it would be a panacea for confusion in the country. Instead, as a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should begin the process of compensating and alleviating the sufferings of the victims of Boko Haram. The President should also ignore the so-called Northern leaders, who are putting pressure on him and turning serious security matters into politics

“Asking the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram sect members amount to calling the government to come and kill the snake with a torch. The JNI must begin to query the change in its value system; a system that now makes them spokesperson of a murderous and bloodthirsty group without being sensitive to the victims of the sect, a system that allows for the slaughtering of human beings like cows without remorse.

“CAN will not fail to point out that the present clamour for amnesty to the Boko Haram sect members by the Sultan and others is a strategy to drive home the message of reaping from where they did not sow. It is a strategy to get a better deal for those they have impoverished for years, by canvassing for amnesty to bloodthirsty, Islamic fundamentalists who have killed without provocation. The JNI is promoting the culture of crass impunity that desecrates the sanctity of human life. The earlier it retraces its steps and beings to fish out the fundamentalists among them, the better for our dear country.”

Details of discussions at the President’s parley with the Service Chiefs were sketchy last night but it was believed the report of the Amnesty Security Committee took the centre stage. The committee was set up two weeks ago to weigh the possibility of granting amnesty to the sect members.

The cloose-door meeting was also expected to consider the position paper presented to President Jonathan on Monday night by the Northern Traditional Rulers, led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar.

At the end of the meeting chaired by the President and Vice President Namadi Sambo in attendance, State House Correspondents were not briefed.

Those who attended the meeting included: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Vice Admiral Ola Ibrahim, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Rear Admiral Dele Ezeoba, Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Alex Badeh, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar, among others.

President Jonathan raised the committee two weeks ago. Its membership was drawn from the National Security Council (NSC).

It was given two weeks to turn reports.

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