Nigeria’s federal government has set up a special inter-agency committee to discuss the possibility of granting amnesty to members of the Islamic sect Boko Haram.
The committee members, drawn from the nation’s defence and security agencies, has two weeks to meet and review the clamour for amnesty being pushed by traditional rulers and political leaders from the Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, which has borne the brunt of the sect’s violent campaign.
The terms of reference of the committee include collation of the clamour arising from different interest groups who want the government to administer clemency on members of the religious sect and recommendation of modalities for the granting of amnesty.
“If amnesty is eventually considered as an option, the committee is also expected to make recommendations regarding the modalities to be employed in handing the amnesty,” a top official of the presidency said.
The committee is expected to work with the office of the National Security Adviser, and its
report of the committee is expected to be presented to the National Security Council in the next two weeks when it is expected to meet again.
The setting up of the committee was preceded by a high-level security meeting of the National Defence Council, chaired by the President, with all the Service Chiefs as well as the Inspector-General of Police, National Security Adviser and others in attendance.
The meeting was called to discuss the increasing activities of the sect, which has killed over 3,000 people since it started its armed campaign in 2009.
President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier said his administration would not give amnesty to those he described as ‘ghosts’, in reference to the fact that the sect has been largely faceless.
But that stand has attracted widespread criticism, especially from northern Nigeria.
The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty to Nigerian oil militants in 2009, restoring peace to the restive oil region.