The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on Monday said that the argument advanced by the President Goodluck Jonathan for denying amnesty to Boko Haram members is as illogical as it is puerile.
Reacting to the president’s visit to Borno and Yobe states last week, the main opposition party in the country said that the visit which it labelled a ‘show-off’ has worsened the insurgencies that has killed and maimed hundreds of innocent people, especially in the two states.
It would be recalled that President Jonathan’s visit to Borno and Yobe States last week was mainly to salute the patriotism of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) for keeping down the maiming and killings of residents in the states.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the ACN said while the decision to grant amnesty to any person or group is the prerogative of the government, the argument advanced by the President for denying amnesty to Boko Haram members is as illogical as it is puerile.
It said “for a President who has unwisely stayed away from the beleaguered part of the country for too long, last week’s visit only succeeded in inflicting additional pain and insults on the victims of the insurgency, who could have used a little dose of succour and empathy from their leader.
”There is no doubt that there has been an upsurge in attacks and killings since the President’s visit, with the clashes between the JTF and the insurgents leaving many dead, drive-by shooting in Kano claiming the lives of innocent people and the unfortunate killing of foreign hostages who were abducted last month in Bauchi.
”If this upsurge can be used as a barometer to measure the success or otherwise of the President’s visit, then one can only reach one conclusion: The visit is a total failure!” ACN said
The party also expressed shock at the way the President, openly displaying anger when what was needed was temperance, talked down on the people, who have suffered so much in the hands of Boko Haram, at his town hall meetings.
It said the misplaced anger of the nation’s number one citizen, who virtually tongue-lashed the prominent citizens who spoke on behalf of their people at the town hall meeting, can only attract sympathy for the insurgents among the beleaguered population, thereby worsening the crisis.
”The President wanted to appear tough in dealing with the Boko Haram insurgents. There is no problem with that, except that he directed his anger at the wrong people, the same people who have been victimized by Boko Haram.
This is called double whammy,” the party said.
On the President’s argument that amnesty cannot be granted to ”ghosts”, ACN said he simply missed the mark.
”If the President claims that Boko Haram members are ghosts, who then are the members of Boko Haram that the JTF regularly claims to have arrested or killed? Does it mean the 52 Boko Haram members that the JTF claimed to have killed, in its latest press release dated March 9th 2013, are actually ghosts?
”What about the Boko Haram members that are being tried in court? Could the government have been trying ghosts?
“And what about those Boko Haram members who were declared wanted last year? Are they also ghosts? Also, the government’s spokesmen have said publicly that the government is talking with Boko Haram through back-channels.
“So the Jonathan Administration has indeed been talking to ghosts?
”Mr President, there is nowhere in the world where insurgents have erected a headquarters building and put up a sign to say ‘we are insurgents, come and get us.’ By their nature, insurgents don’t engage in a march past, displaying their weapons. That is why intermediaries are used to reach out to them,” the party said.
The ACN said while it strongly condemns the Boko Haram insurgents, their senseless killing of innocent people and attacks on the security agents, it believes that the use of force is not the only option open to the government to end the crisis.