Boko Haram Rejects Amnesty Offer: Now What?


“Mr Shekau said his group had done no wrong and so an amnesty would not be applicable to them.

It was the Nigerian government that was committing atrocities against Muslims, he said.

“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 [a] pardon,” AFP news agency quotes him as saying in the Hausa language audio recording.” 

Read the full report on the BBC News website

Of course, this was to be expected and sadly, many of us “observers” were just waiting for this. Boko Haram NEVER requested or plead for amnesty, it has no use for it whatsoever. You don’t need a sophisticated anti-terrorism profiler from Mossad to tell you that Boko Haram thrives on and draws its strength from the fear it inflicts on those commanding the machinery of government and the people, in seeking its “vengeance” (however warped that quest for vengeance is). Amnesty as it stands, would rob it of its lifeblood (its ability to inflict fear and terror). By default, Boko Haram is wired to reject this offer, as it has.  Now what?

This phase of the Boko Haram insurgency against the Nigerian state and the offer of amnesty by the government is analagous to two people, Mr. A. and Mr. B., engaged in bloody physical combat with Mr. A gaining the upper hand against Mr. B. Upon realising how imminent his defeat is, Mr. B., proclaims in between steely punches smashing his face “I forgive you Mr. A., I grant you amnesty”. Of course at this point, Mr. A will realise how powerful he has become, and simply finish off Mr. B.

I have keenly followed the pro- and anti- amnesty debate over the past two weeks or so in Nigeria. I found it all rather confounding, disturbing, distracting and absolutely pathetic! The debate got so heated and was as usual, unnecessarily politicised by both sides. I actually supported the President’s initial position of “not granting amnesty to faceless ghosts” because Boko Haram did not request for it, has insisted that it doesn’t recognise the authority of the Nigerian state (not to mention its feeble amnesty offer) and has continued butchering innocent Nigerians. However, President Jonathan was cajoled and bullied by SOME northern leaders into offering the amnesty.

On the other side of the divide, even those who genuinely and naïvely assumed that an amnesty offer would be the magical elixir to solve this bloody insurgency quagmire, were viciously painted by vociferous anti-amnesty voices as Boko Haram “sympathisers”. Now Boko Haram has flipped the bird or as we Nigerians call it, did the “uwaka” sign to us all, by rejecting it!

Photo credit: amebor.com

Personally, I am more incensed at the folly of SOME of the proponents of amnesty and their gross inability to see how this would play out. I say a big Thank You for giving the world the opportunity once again, to laugh at your sheer recklessness. So, what next then? Start begging Boko Haram or bribe them with Hajj pilgrimage or Dubai trip offers?

The baby steps towards a sustainable solution should be clear and visible. In my opinion — based on my humble observations and from general discussions — I believe they include:

  1. Implementation of recommendations of several reports by various commissions and committees set up, on this insurgency. Most of these reports have concrete recommendations proposed by committee members who are in the know, yet they have been dumped somewhere. Go back, pick them up, and start working from the recommendations, if they haven’t been eaten by dust mite that is. If the Federal Government seems unwilling or keeps dragging its foot, our “esteemed” and opinionated northern elders clearly have their advocacy work cut out for them;
  2. The JTF needs to stop killing innocent people and thereby providing a ready supply of recruits and suicide bombers to Boko Haram from a pool of angry, spiteful, vengeful and disillusioned orphans. The logic here is so ridiculously simple and apparent: the more you kill fathers in the presence of their impressionable teenagers and brutalise innocent young men, the more likely the victims are to fall into the willing embrace of Boko Haram or just refuse to help the government. Government needs to realise the pivotal role of winning the hearts and minds of people caught in the midst of all this, and denying Boko Haram any sort of popular support;
  3. In addition to spreading fear through its carnage, Boko Haram primarily thrives on spreading its warped and twisted ideology to angry, frustrated and hungry Nigerians. Its ideology needs to be countered by Muslim clerics all over the country, especially in northern Nigeria. Already, we have people like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who, despite his sometimes controversial statements, has come down hard on the sect, and because of that, he has been the target of several bomb-assassination attempts. Importantly this de-radicalisation needs to filter down to the grassroots, and shouldn’t be restricted to the elitist spheres such as the Sultan Bello mosque in Kaduna or the Indimi mosque in Maiduguri. The real recruitment takes place in inner-city districts, slums, suburbs and rural areas. This is where some of our noisy northern leaders could be helpful, rather than bullying the President to offer a hollow and meaningless amnesty, they should (if they are doing so already) continue convincing local imams in every street mosque and district, to preach fearlessly against this radical ideology, with credible evidence from the Holy Qur’an and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), to expose the flaws in the ideological basis of Boko Haram and hopefully turn some of its members against it;
  4. There might still be a chance for amnesty… but there has to be a different approach. Again related to (1) above, the government (Federal and States) should go back to those reports and their recommendations, importantly, to start prosecuting perpetrators especially those in the security agencies responsible for extra-judicial killings of innocent citizens. This might be a highly contested approach but yes, start by prosecuting the killers of Mohammed Yusuf and others, which Boko Haram has frequently cited as the reason for its war against the Nigerian state. Prosecution of these erring officers might draw whatever humanity is left in some of the sect members to the negotiating table.

Lastly, the main problem with Nigeria, as is evident from this insurgency is that of sheer and criminal impunity. People steal, plunder, rape, murder and do everything under the sun, yet they are allowed to get away with it. This not only sets a precedent for other members of society to do same or worse, but it leaves victims with malicious grievances and a thirst for vengeance. Mohammed Yusuf, the sect’s alleged founder was brutally murdered (captured by the lens of Aljazeera’s cameras), the perpetrators are still walking about freely. The various suspects of church, market, mosque and school bombings are still walking about freely. Soldiers who have snuffed the life out of innocent citizens are still walking about freely. This breeds nothing but hateful grievances while the cycle of bloodletting continues. In the case of the sect, Jama’atul ahlul Sunna Wal-Liddawati wal Jihad, or Boko Haram, it is quenching its thirst for vengeance with the blood of innocents and this is what needs to stop.

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32 thoughts on “Boko Haram Rejects Amnesty Offer: Now What?

  1. The issue of BH is too complicated to the extend that no one can tell you exactly who they are and what they want.

  2. Good piece Zainab. I agree with you that amnesty is no solution to the insurgency. It’s like a wrong prescription by clueless physician who fails to discover the cause of an ailment, or has not done sufficient investigation, or does not like to investigate the cause. The root cause of the Boko Haram insurgents is the gross human rights abuse of our security men which culminate din the gruesome murder of Mohammed Yusuf. Instead of government to set up a tribunal to investigate and recommend punishment for the perpetrators, everyone is shunning the truth. The era of jungle justice seems to have crept into our land to the effect that no crime by public officials will go unpunished even if the courts and police have refused to hold people responsible for their actions. The people are gradually taking the law into their own hands to settle scores. I hope you have heard of the recent attempts on the lives of two deputy governors of Gombe and Adamawa States. More may be in the pipeline as public officials and law enforcement agents glorify the culture of impunity. It’s so sad that our government and political leaders have been so complacent that people are resorting to self-help to redress acts of injustice. Our own version of the Egyptian Revolution, one may say.

  3. You summarized your article by hitting the nail on the head. IMPUNITY!! it is so entrenched in our every day way of life that it is now a culture. We are screaming for a revolution but are the youths better. Some are arguing that the youth of todays society were raised better and are less morally corrupt which will ensure a better country.

    I used to believe that our morally bankrupt leaders were probably not raised right but on reflection it occured to me that these men/women were raised in the 60s and 70s were i can afford to say decadence in society isnt as crazy as it is now. So what influences this behavior? it is not just politicians oh. it is every one. From the parents that pay for their kids exam malpractice to the pharmacist the sells fake drugs. Impunity is the umbrella that covers all other atrocities. Nigeria we hail thee.

  4. Your observations are ok. But for how long will Nigerians continue to watch this wanton killings of innocent lives?. My thoughts are that

    1. If we continue to have this kind of irresponsible leadership Boko Haram will continue. I propose the following solutions

    2. The Government should stop paying bogus allowances to security officers.
    3. The police should take charge of this fight.

    4. All Nigerians irrespective of their party affiliations, religious beliefs and tribes should condemn this wanton killings.

    5. Amnesty is desirable for repentant ones and those who refuse amnesty should tried as murderers where ever they are found period.

    Enough is Enough

  5. Nice piece! My madam on top is writin her project on these topic,as i share wit her. She promise me a rose flower. Tnks 4d knowladge.

  6. You people decieve us, Ya Allah destroy who is backing them, BOKO HARAM are not Muslims Islam reject your act, but i suspect our enemies by introducing BOKO HARAM to our Muslim youths, but the real aim is to destroy Islam and Muslims.
    “They plotted, and Allah planned too. And Allah Is the of planners”
    YA ALLAH!
    YA ALLAH!!
    YA ALLAH!!!
    DESRTROY THEM(BOKOHARAM) and it’s sponsors ameeeeeeeen.

  7. You made quite some valid points above and I especially appreciate your 2nd recommendation regarding calling the JTF to order. But, there was no need for you to use foul language in making your analysis like you did here: “Personally, I am more incensed at the folly of SOME of the proponents of amnesty and their gross inability to see how this would play out. I say a big Thank You for “OPENING YOUR SOILED ASSES” to the world to laugh at your sheer recklessness.” I’ve been a proponent of an amnesty – just because I, like very many others, including those against it, couldn’t figure out any effective short or medium term measure to stop the killings and return the peace. Your statement is quite unfair. You should be more guarded in your diction next time. Thanks!

  8. You people decieve us, Ya Allah destroy who is backing them, BOKO HARAM are not Muslims Islam reject your act, but i suspect our enemies by introducing BOKO HARAM to our Muslim youths, but the real aim is to destroy Islam and Muslims.
    “They plotted, and Allah planned too. And Allah Is the best of planners”
    YA ALLAH!
    YA ALLAH!!
    YA ALLAH!!!
    DESRTROY THEM(BOKOHARAM) and it’s sponsors ameeeeeeeen.

  9. Thumbs up for you! Nice piece there. It’s now left for the govt to take the recommendations as they seem to be ever confused.

  10. Nice article Zainab.

    The amnesty proposition shows how much we have departed from our values as a. Society. Mohammed Yusuf’s muder, however brutal, does not require that the muderers of 9 innocent workers should go free.

    We are led my men of low virtues and almost no principles. As such we look for shortcuts where we require resolve. They think amnesty will make all the problems disappear and they can get back to their plaunder.

    What is the basis for Amnesty? Is Manslaugter(in some case literally) of innocent souls a basis to let their unrepentant muderers go free. BH are without a doubt cowards who thrive on fear of the helpless and innocent based on a warped ideology.

    I believe our security have not done enough. We have allowed a bunch of bandits to thrive for too long. The government has also not been strategic in its media battle with the bandits. Yet we have not gotten to the roots of the initial crisis with people like Ali Modu Sherrif and Sen. Ndume still walking the streets.

    I say NO to amnesty. We must let justice prevail. There can be no peace without justice.

  11. Zainab you have tried bt u make mistake in saying that muslim clerics should come out without fear, many have preach in maiduguri and Yobe and the next day you would found them death, pls read wat Prof said on last week sunday trust. You are underating BH sister zainab

  12. I must personally impressed by your write up. It has just like many other ones shown your concern for a better Nigeria.
    The points you made are to be taking serious as long as the security of this nation is concerned. I am thinking the fight should be done in two levels.
    1). Impunity as you said it is an order in Nigeria. I always feel angry when I hear the report of catching some people trying to plant their bombs or discovering a bomb fabricating industry. Surely, if these pieces of information are true (and for no doubt many are), then why is it that the case ends with the discovery? How come that they never serve as indices to tracking those behind those machineries? Does it mean that those factories belong to the angry youths who out of ignorance decide to blow themselves up for reasons better know to themselves? Who finances them and how do they function? These and many other questions of the type remain a mystery in Nigeria and I am convinced no one denies that the real authors are directly or indirectly know. So, for the killings to stop, Nigeria must put an end to impunity and punish not only those behind the system called Boko Haram but also those who have used it to perpetrate disorder in this nation, the JTF included.
    2). You made a very serious point concerning fighting Boko Haram on grass root level. I am preoccupied by the rate at which ignorance push many Nigerians to extremism. Not just religious extremism but also political extremism. I am of the idea that the clerics have a big role to play. I have ones said that the Boko Haram unlike the M23 of RD Congo , the Taliban of Pakistan and other rebel and terrorist groups in the world who are either living in the forest or among the mountains, are living among the people. They move about just like every other citizens of Nigeria.
    For this reason, the citizens must be involve in the fight because, as long as they do not see the reason why the government is fighting the Boko Haram, they will never cooperate with the her.
    The clerics are also of a paramount importance as they are the ones whose voice make much meaning in this religious chaos that is crushing Nigeria and her citizens.
    There are also those thinking they should keep quite so as not to be killed. I share their fear but still, a cleric knows one of his work is to be ready to die for the truth. Though, that depends on if they are convinced there is a need to preach against Boko Haram.
    However, What I am yet to understand is if there was enough evident for the President to know the amnesty demand was not from the Boko Haram? As a matter of fact, I was also among those who, carried away by the desire to see the end of this merciless killing of innocent Nigerians, thought it was a good decision granting amnesty to Boko Haram even when I knew they never merited it. I am thinking that anyone in the shoes of Mr President would have been easily fooled to that decision without knowing how unreal was the so called amnesty demand.

  13. Now that the BH has rejected the amnesty offer, What are the next steps?
    The GEJ should start implementing some of their demands such as gradual release of detainees starting with the women and children, prosecution of the officers involved in the killings shown on Aljazeera TV , pissibily rebuilding their places of worship and homes.

  14. Zee, this is a nice article but what is missing is the fact that the Northern Leaders and Muslim cleric are too scared to come out and condemn this act. When the Northern Leaders form a strong hold and make up their make to put an end to this madness then we have achieved a lot. One is now concerned that even the Northern Leaders are actually responsible for this madness.

  15. Your point number 2 and 4 are sufficient to nip this issue from the bud. Unfortunately because there was selfish interest in it, it is difficult to be implemented. From my shear point of view if exactly point 2 is not with IMMEDIATE effect carried out this insurgency is just the beginning. It is even better for JTF to begin genocide directly that what they now are doing-breeding young insurgents day-in-day-out.

  16. I will disagree with you on this one. The Military option has failed so far; The JTF has killed more civilians than BH – go to Borno and ask them – BH still kills and bombs whenever it wants! Common sense dictates that if plan A is not working, you try plan B…Those rejecting the idea of amnesty fail to see that its not about BH, its about the innocent civilians, caught in the middle.
    Lets see how this will pan out, and hope the Nigerian state has learned it lesson

    • I do conquor with you Zaharadin. The Central issue is; How do killings stop? Let it be no VICTOR nor VANGUISH. but the the killings stop.

  17. Good observations. But another issue not considered is the possibility of support from the neighboring governments of Chad and Cameroun or even their master France who actually run the governments. So far even a layman knows that the direction of transit of arms from the records of the ones caught are mostly westward i.e from Chad/ Cameroun towards inner Nigeria. And to compound things the countries had never hid their hatred for Nigeria. e.g Their support for Biafra.

  18. You got it wrong. How do you think of implementing any recommendation(s) with continues killings of innocent souls? In a journey of thousand miles a step is the starting point. No one is telling the world that amnesty would instantly end the insurgency, but rather a step to ending it.

    Furthermore, intellectuals should not expect BH to instantly accept the amnesty offer but rather do so on intervention of the people that have been calling for it.

    Wallahi Zainab everybody, (most especially those living in the state affected much by the insurgency) are tired of the continues killings of innocent souls and detriorating of economic activities.

    One more thing that I want you to note Zainab is, Both the FG and Soldiers are killing one Family (i.e. Nigerians) and any attempt to fast track the suspension of the killings would be embraced with open hands in any sane State.

    In conclusion, I support the amnesty call of the FG and hope the agitators for the amnesty would ensure acceptence of the offer by BH.

    Post Script: Amnesty call by FG does not mean total failure to defeat the insurgents but rather another approach to. as ideology would never be defeated by using force but ideas.

  19. Nice article, but about your last recommendation, what about justice for the people Boko Haram killed before and after Mohammed Yusuf? Don’t you also think they too deserve justice? If that is Boko Haram’s grievance, then the Government after Boko Haram would have a lot of inhumane and violent sect to negotiate with, since that is the only language they understand and the vicious circle would have no end.
    Solution should be TO PROSECUTE ALL PERPETRATORS both Boko Haram and security agencies, then would true peace reign. If not those innocent lives that Boko Haram have killed in the name of vengeance would also seek vengeance too in the form that the Government seems to understand.

  20. I have not read any where, any comment or opinion that captures the truth of the boko haram situation like this. You have hit the nail in the head and done it succinctly . If only those who have the power and the means to implement ur suggestions will read and act!!! May God bless u. And enrich u more.

  21. […] Nigeria: Islamic extremist group Boko Haram rejected the government’s offer of full amnesty. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau: “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 a pardon.” Zainab’s musings analyzes the response here. […]

  22. your view against amnesty for BH on your twitter page triggered me to clarify some facts.
    as i read thru your article i came to the conclusion that your whole write up is self contradictory, the only sense you made is in 2nd paragraph where you mention extra judicial killings.

    the term “amnesty “does not only mean government splashing money on militants after they give up their arms, and in fact BH are not after money unlike the niger militants.

    amnesty can be in any other form not necessary money issues, any conclusion reached with this sect that will make them lay there arms.

    most of your points can be categorized as part of amnesty.

    what baffles the me most is when CAN complains that christian faiths are no more safe in nigeria, and the same association are against the only meaningful and practical solution to this menace.

    lastly, i can see you have a beautiful gift of using good and big words to express your thoughts, it is a very rare gift, please use your gift in a very good way, especially to help end this menace,,,,,

  23. Zainab, thanks very much, candidly your piece reflect my own thought about BH. May GOD see us out of this quagmire

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