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Jonathan in Yobe, declines amnesty for Boko Haram

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday stately clearly that he would not grant amnesty to members of the terrorist Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, unless they show themselves physically for negotiations.

President Jonathan made this disclosure at a Town Hall meeting during his visit to Damaturu, Yobe State, one of the areas worst hit with killings of persons and bombings of private and public buildings by the terrorist sect.

However, he has assured the people of Yobe that his delay in visiting the state before now was not because he did not car about their plight though he had visited other places.

Responding to demands for amnesty for Boko Haram by some professionals and stakeholders in Yobe state, led by former minister of Finance, Adamu Ciroma, the President said he would not do so to a group that has remained “ghosts” since no one has yet to come forth to admit membership of the deadly sect.

According to him, “You cannot declare amnesty for ghosts. Boko Haram still operates like ghosts. So, you can’t talk about amnesty for Boko Haram now until you see the people you are discussing with”.

Making a comparison to the amnesty granted to Niger Delta militants, the President said it was possible for former President Umaru Yar’Adua, to do it because the militants surfaced and came to see the President when invited, but that no leader of Boko Haram has made himself visible for talks to hold.

“When you call the Niger Delta militants, they will come; but nobody has agreed that he is a Boko Haram; no one has come forward. If amnesty can solve the situation, then no problem. But nobody has come forward to make himself visible”, he said.

The President added that even the amnesty for the Niger Delta militant was not handled perfectly as there were continuous stream of repentant militants after the deadline had lapsed and the programme is almost becoming endless, but argued that such mistakes should not be made with another amnesty programme.

On his delayed visit to the state before now, Jonathan said it was as a result of the change of National Security Adviser (NSA) recently as it had been planned even before the appointment of Sambo Dasuki as NSA.

Speaking earlier during the President’s meeting with emirs and traditional rulers from the state, the Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, disclosed that 209 public schools, vehicles and property worth N2.5 billion, and private buildings estimated at N629 million have been burnt or destroyed by the insurgents.

The governor said his government has spent about N4.8 billion to contain the terrorist insurgency.

He explained that the state government spends an average of N200 million monthly to maintain the operations of security personnel fighting the insurgents.

“Over 150 patrol vehicles have also been donated to the security personnel and the costs are impacting heavily on the lean resources of the state.

“It is in this regard that I make a special appeal to Mr. President to come to our rescue by allocating intervention funds to the state government to enable it cope with the current security challenges”,  the governor appealed.

The governor admitted that while there is need to embrace newest technology and techniques by the nation’s security agencies to tackle the prevailing challenge, “the ultimate strategy of addressing its remote causes through poverty alleviation, eradication of ignorance, entrenchment of social inclusion and good governance, however, appear to be the only panacea”.