The respite and indignation that greeted the recent report of President Goodluck Jonathan’s grant of amnesty to the unrepentant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has taken a new dimension as the President and Commander In Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces denies ever issuing such Democracy Day gift.
Instead, the Presidency has blamed Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna for making the statement that the presidency is ready to grant amnesty to the insurgents, who recently invaded Chibok and abducted over 200 school girls in their search for “heavenly virgins”.
Recall that the Minister had on Thursday stated that the President has granted amnesty to the sect members who are willing to embrace peace by dropping their arms and ammunitions.
But Preident Jonathan, speaking through his spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Saturday, dismissed Haruna’s claim.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents, Abati, insisted the President never used the word ‘amnesty’ in his speeches either in the Democracy Day broadcast or at the International Conference Centre where the Minister spoke.
When asked about the amnesty offer, Abati said he wouldn’t want to say anything about that, preferring to align himself only with the President’s broadcast.
He said, “Let me refer you to the speech by the President. If you read the speech line by line, you will see that it contains the very message that the President wanted to put across and in that speech if you look at it I don’t think the President used amnesty.
“Instead, he spoke about those who are willing to renounce terrorism, those who are willing to embrace peace, opportunities have been created for them through the fact-finding committee, through the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolutions of Conflict in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.”
It could be also recalled that President Jonathan in his May 29 broadcast said: “For our citizens who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.”