President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that there will be no amnesty for members of the fundamental sect, Boko Haram, as demanded by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III.
The president made the declaration while speaking in Damaturu at a town hall meeting during his one-day visit to Yobe State.
Jonathan said he could not grant amnesty to Boko Haram because members of the group have remained “ghosts” with no one coming forward to admit membership of the sect.
“We cannot declare amnesty for Boko Haram because we cannot declare amnesty for ghosts. You cannot liken Boko Haram to what happened in the Niger Delta” he said.
The President’s declaration was a quick response to the Sultan of Sokoto who appealed to the President to declare amnesty for the sect members just as the government did for militants in the Niger Delta in 2008.
Jonathan said it was possible for the government to grant the militants in Niger Delta amnesty because they showed up when he invited them.
“What I am saying is that in the Niger Delta case, if you call them, they will come and tell you their grievances, rightly or wrongly. They will be there to tell you ‘this is what we want; this is why we are doing this.’
“But in the case of the Boko Haram, you don’t see anybody who will say he is a Boko Haram member, so we cannot declare amnesty.
“For us to declare amnesty, we must be communicating with people. We cannot declare amnesty for people that are operating under a veil.
“We can’t even discuss amnesty issue, let them come and tell us their problems and let’s see how we can solve the problem.”
Jonathan refuted claims that his visit to Yobe State was belated, saying, “it is not true that the president did not show concern for Borno and Yobe following the security challenges.”
However, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State said his government had spent about N4.8 billion to contain the insurgency and that the state spends about N200 million monthly to maintain the operations of security personnel fighting the insurgents.
Gaidam, disclosed that 209 public schools, vehicles and property worth N2.5 billion, and private buildings estimated at N629 million have been destroyed by the insurgents.