A sharp disagreement and confusion emerged on Saturday over the offer of amnesty by the Federal Government to members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati denied the claim by the Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna that the President had offered amnesty to members of the sect.
Haruna had on Thursday during a programme to mark the nation’s Democracy Day titled ‘A day with young leaders of Nigeria,’ announced that the President had offered amnesty to the insurgents in his determination to bring the ongoing violent attacks to an end.
Haruna had also said that series of integration programmes have been lined up for the members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace.
“Let me use this opportunity on behalf of the Federal Government, to call on the members of the Boko Haram sect to embrace the government’s gesture and key into the amnesty programme,” he stated
Curiously, President Jonathan, who spoke at the occasion after Haruna made the comment, did not make any reference to the Minister’s remarks but Abati, while speaking with State House correspondents on Saturday, maintained that the President did not offer amnesty to members of the sect.
Stressing that he would not say anything about the ‘amnesty’ announcement, he said that he would rather refer Nigerians to the Democracy Day nationwide broadcast by the President where he never used the term “amnesty.”
“Let me refer you to the speech by the President. If you read the speech line by line, you will see that it contains the very message that the President wanted to put across and in that speech, if you look at it I don’t think the President used amnesty.
“Instead, he spoke about those who are willing to renounce terrorism, those who are willing to embrace, opportunities have been created for them through the fact-finding committee, through the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolutions of Conflict in the North Eastern part of Nigeria,” Abati said.
On the murder of the Emir of Gwoza on Friday, he said: “The President got the news and he was sad about it because what it means is that these terrorists who are threatening peace and stability in Nigeria, are desperate and they continue to show that desperation.”
“But as the President made it clear in his democracy day broadcast, that was his main message to Nigerians, that at the end of the day it is the people of Nigeria that will prevail, no matter how desperate terrorists may be and that his government is determined to rid the country of terrorism.
“And the support solidarity the cooperation, the expression of partnership that we are receiving from our neighboring countries, the whole of the West African sub-region, Africa and the entire world shows that this is the battle that the whole world is prepared to fight.
“So the days of peace as the President said in his speech is assured because this battle will not end until it is won and sustainable development is fully guaranteed,” he said.