The leader of extremist group, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has claimed in a statement that his group had “not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty.”
“Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon,” he said, listing what he described as the state’s “atrocities” against Muslims.
The Hausa language audio recording was distributed by email in a manner consistent with previous Boko Haram messages, and the voice was similar to that of previous Shekau statements.
President Goodluck Jonathan last week formed a panel to look at the possibility of offering an amnesty deal to the Islamists, whose insurgency has left more than 3 000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the military Joint Task Force (JTF).
Some northern religious and political leaders have been urging President Jonathan to grant an amnesty to members of Boko Haram as they say the army’s response to the insurgency is not bringing peace.
In 2009, former President Umar Musa Yar Adua granted an amnesty to thousands of militants wreaking havoc in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the south.
The violence fell dramatically but there are worrying warnings of further unrest in the Delta, analysts say.
Ex – militants on Wednesday staged a protest in Abuja over the non-payment of their amnesty allowance for the past two years.
The militants who alleged that they had been enrolled into the third phase of the Federal Governments amnesty programme claim that the government has not lived up to its promises to some of its members after laying down their arms.
A former militant, Alex Makaraba, who was among those in the protest said: “The government asked us to drop our guns for the third phase of the amnesty, that nobody should be with arms in the Niger Delta Region so that there will be peace. We’ve dropped all our guns; they gave us certificates and did accreditation. They promised us that very soon they are going to pay us and empower us.”
He said that after two years, the government is yet to fulfil its promise.
“If we are the people producing the oil, apart from the oil, you promise to give this people (the Niger Delta people) a better life, why are they delaying to pay us this our amnesty money of which everybody knows that we dropped our things (arms)?
“Those are things (guns) people use to eat. That is what they use to feed themselves,” Mr Makaraba said.
Reacting to the protest and demands of the ex-militants, the spokesperson of the amnesty office, Daniel Alabra dismissed their claims, saying that the third phase of the amnesty programme is yet to begin.
The amnesty programme was an initiative of late President Musa Yar’Adua. Through the programme, repentant Niger Delta militants were granted amnesty and empowered to be self-dependent. This according to the initiator of the programme will help to bring peace in the once troubled Niger Delta Region.