Nigerian Government Is Considering Giving Repentant Boko Haram Members Amnesty

Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government is in a dilemma over the amnesty that is being considered for repentant Boko Haram members.

According to a source, the confusion on whether to jettison the idea of amnesty or not came up following the appearance in a video by one of Boko Haram commanders swapped for the 82 Chibok girls less than three days after the release of the girls in which he threatened government.

It was also gathered that government is disturbed on the issue of amnesty because of the claim that the said commander, identified as Shuaibu Moni, led the Easter Day attacks on some communities in the suburb of Maiduguri, Borno State capital.

There are reports that a splinter group of the insurgents, led by Moni, was responsible for the Easter Day attacks on Bale Kura, Bale Shuwarin, Jamine and Alikaramti in Jere local government near Maiduguri, in which no fewer than 20 persons lost their lives and 83 others wounded.

Intelligence available to the administration, it was learnt, indicated that following the Jere attack, the swapped commander appeared to have opened the third splinter group in Boko Haram, thus making the proposed amnesty programme a tough task.

It was also gathered that the growing number of wings of insurgents has led to what is described as “end-game” activities of kidnapping and suicide bombing against Nigerians.

While government was said to have kept its side of the bargain as stated by the Director General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, that the insurgents’ only condition was a cessation of hostilities and temporary ceasefire, to pave the way for the return of the Dapchi girls, it was learnt that further attacks by the insurgents since then have been threatening the amnesty plan.

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Following the release of the recently captured Dapchi girls by Boko Haram, President Muhammadu Buhari had announced the intention of his administration to put the issue of insurgency-influenced kidnappings and violence to rest by offering amnesty to repentant Boko Haram members.

Sources however said that the unfolding cracks in the Boko Haram system and pressure from the Western countries, who do not buy the idea of alleged payment of ransom for the release of captives, are combining to create the dilemma within government.

For instance, a number of newspapers in the Western countries, including the Daily Telegraph of London and a Canada-based online outfit, have criticised the alleged payment of ransom for kidnappings in Nigeria, just as some diplomats and local advisers might have intimated government with the need for caution in the bid to make concessions to insurgents.

The Daily Telegraph of London had reported recently that behind the scenes, some diplomats and influential advisers have “bitterly opposed the decision to make concessions.”

Some of those knowledgeable about global insurgency were also said to have questioned the role of the Swiss government which was said to have “influenced Buhari” because they wanted to take glory for the release of the hostages.

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