Pause Before the Amnesty.
Following pressures from some Nigerians (Sultan of Sokoto etc), the federal government has constituted a committee for Boko Haram amnesty. The author is concerned about which Boko Haram, the amnesty is meant for? The President has made two contradictory statements on Boko Haram, first, he said, that some are in his government, secondly he referred to them as faceless or invincible. Now if actually they are part of his government, then amnesty is not necessary since they already enjoy financial and other benefits, and if they are faceless and invincible like the President said, then also amnesty is not necessary. This is because you cannot give amnesty to an invincible/faceless group. Except those proponents of amnesty can identify them, otherwise this might become another “Nigerian Project” (conduit pipe for steeling public money). Since the President has gone ahead to constitute a Boko Haram amnesty committee in the first place, then fairness and equity demands that he should also constitute Compensation Committee to pay the innocent victims and surviving family members of those attacked/killed/displaced by the Boko Haram. However, to achieve a balance, this proposed committee should also pay the innocent victims and surviving family members of those attacked/killed/displaced by the MEND etc. A look at the money spent so far on amnesty to, and rehabilitation of MEND members, is an idea on how much that could also be spent on Boko Haram. The author understands that no amount of compensation can replace loved ones etc, but it’s also their right to demand compensation, after all, the primary responsibilities of every government (Nigerian government inclusive) are security and welfare. Failing in these duties, means that the federal government should accept some responsibilities. Both the American and United Kingdom governments paid compensation to the victims of terrorists’ attacks of 9/11 and 7/7. I suggest that innocent families of those attacked/killed/displaced by both MEND and Boko Haram etc should institute a class action against the federal government. This reminds me of the request made by the luxury bus operators Kano Branch to the federal government, asking for N495 million naira, as compensation for the loss of nine buses during the March 18 bomb blasts, at their motor parks in Kano. The Central Bank Governor (Sanusi) did pay some money to innocent victims during an initial terrorists attack in Kano last year (2012). Therefore asking federal government for compensation is in order. This step by luxury bus operator(s) is a very positive step, and also an indication of what others should do. The author will add here, that they also should consider a legal action if the federal government fails. Having accepted amnesty for MEND and Boko Haram, which goes with high monetary inducements, the federal government should be prepared to start negotiations with other groups or new ones that might spring up. Here the author prays to be proven wrong, but other existing or new groups might start agitation, aiming for amnesty. After all, what is good for the goose should be good for the gander? But the truth is, the government might not be better than these groups. The government thru their actions, inactions, wrong policies, corruption etc has directly or indirectly killed more Nigerians. The solutions to our problems, begins when we have determined to solve them, for now, that determination is not there. May God bless Nigeria. Chinedu Vincent Akuta UK 9/4/13.