Written by Leon Usigbe
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
THERE is no offer of amnesty from the
Federal Government to Abubakar Shekau,leader of Boko Haram, should he
renounce violence, the presidency has
said. This is contrary to a report in a national daily (not the Nigerian Tribune), on Tuesday, which had attributed the assertion to the Coordinator of Counter-Terrorism Centre, General Sarkin-Yaki Bello.
Bello had spoken on the issue of terrorism with United States (US) military personnel, at an interactive session at the National Defence College, Abuja, on Monday. A top presidency source said in Abuja, on Tuesday, that instead of offering amnesty to the Islamic religious sect leaders, the
Coordinator had declared that government would only listen to the
group if it came up with a credible leadership and renounce violence.
Bello had been quoted as saying that “if a credible leadership shows itself,
government is ready to negotiate with
them. If (Abubakar) Shekau can come
out, using his usual medium,to renounce
violence, the government will be ready for the dialogue.” Correcting the impression created by the report, the source maintained that the Coordinator merely responded to a question put to him by a US military personnel who wanted his perspective on the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
According to the source, “in response,
General Bello enumerated the grievances of the group, as a preamble to answering the question asked of him, and went on to stress that all the requests were untenable and the apex government will not key into any of them.” Furthermore, it was learnt that the Coordinator rejected the claim that the Federal Government was intent on
meeting the demands of the group.
“Instead of giving in to these unrealistic
demands by the sect, General Bello had
advised at the session that their leader,
Imam Abubakar Shekau, should come out publicly, or via his favourite social
medium, the YouTube, to announce the cessation of violence,” the source said,
adding that “from there,the government will be convinced that the group really