THEWILL EDITORIAL: Amnesty For Boko Haram

SAN FRANCISCO, April 10, (THEWILL) – At the urging of many prominent Nigerians, President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to consider presidential amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect. To this end, therefore, the President has set up a committee to look into the feasibility of such a pardon. While we agree that it is within the president’s constitutional right to offer presidential pardon to this or any other group or person, we urge Mr. President to thread carefully.

In the first instance, to compare the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, to the terrorist group, Boko Haram, is a mistake. While the former had a clear motive — and limiting its anger to mainly non-human targets — the latter has mainly targeted civilian populations, and in the process, caused an estimated 2,600 deaths in the last 18 months or thereabout. In addition, thousands of innocent and unarmed civilians had been injured, while scores of religious, military, and educational infrastructure had been destroyed.

THEWILL Editors are not opposed to a pardon, but for such a pardon to be granted, we suggest four moves on the part of the group. First, it must publicly renounce violence and stick to such renunciation. Second, it must keep to its promise for a period no less than 60-days, indicating its seriousness and commitment to viable peace. Third, its leadership and main financiers must be made known to the security and intelligence agencies. And fourth, it must subject itself and its agenda to the relevant laws of the country and its various institutions.

Once these simple but serious conditions are met, the government may, as a matter of national security, engage the group and offer a presidential amnesty. Until the above-listed conditions are met in manners that satisfy our domestic laws, and meet international conventions, we do not deem it appropriate for President Jonathan to offer the group a presidential pardon.

However, should the group meet and or exceed the stated condition, the government, on its part, must meet its obligation to the group by, amongst other things, retrain and rehabilitate its members. And because Nigeria is not a homogenous society, the government must be sensitive to the Islamic religion and traditions. We also expect, and in fact, urge the group to take government up on its offers, once the offers are made.

Whether the President pardons (which is what we favour), or decline to pardon members of Boko Haram, we urge the administration to fully compensate all those who were injured, or who had their homes and properties destroyed. But more than that, we urge the Jonathan Administration to, as a matter of urgency, compensate the families of those who lost their lives directly, or indirectly, to the mayhem and devastation brought about by Boko Haram.

And finally, this and future governments must look at ways to foster a sense of nationhood and belonging; meet and keep its obligations to the people of Nigeria vis-à-vis basic human and security needs; and by reforming our economic and political structures and systems. We believe that these simple steps will go a long way in discouraging Nigerians from untold intentions towards the country and her national security interests.

How Old is Governor Adams Oshiomhole?

The Edo State governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, is not new to controversies. His opponents and critics, for example, contend that he falsified his academic records. This allegation continues to haunt the governor because he has not been able to satisfactorily put the unsavoury suspicion to rest. The latest allegation involves a very simple matter: the governor’s real age.

There are those who may argue that “if the governor is performing according to the mandate” given him by the people of Edo State, what does it matter if the biological age the governor claimed in his INEC form is at variance with the age he publicly declared and celebrated a couple of days ago.

Whether the governor is 60 or 61 does not really matter. What matters is the appearance of lies and deceit. Now, if the governor is lying about such a simple matter, what else could he be lying about? If the governor cannot tell simple truth about his biological age, what other secrets could he be keeping from the good people of Edo State and his numerous supporters across the country?

Lies, no matter how innocuous they may be, do not help bourgeoning democracies such as ours. As a former labour leader, who is also considered a member of the new breed of democrats, he cannot be seen to be taking actions, and or making pronouncements, that are inimical and injurious to a thriving democracy such as ours. Such lie and deceit – assuming they truly are – do not in any way help deepen our nascent democracy.

And so we must ask: How old is Governor Adams Oshiomhole? Was he born on April 4, 1952; or was he born on April 4, 1953? He owes us all nothing but the complete and gospel truth!

Arrest Of Leadership Editors In Abuja

Without reservation, we strongly condemn the recent arrest of four editors of Abuja-based Leadership newspaper. It was wrong, illegal, and reprehensible for the Jonathan government to effect such an arrest and, in the process, disrupt the democratic mandate of the press.

What is a democracy without an independent and thriving media and intellectual class? We hope that such arrest and disruption will not happen again to Leadership newspaper, and to other media houses around the country.

The President Jonathan Administration must know that the media is as important as the three arms of government (the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary). We cannot, and should not, go back to the unpleasant and frightening days of military dictatorship. Those days are over and should be considered over by this and other governments.

If government believes it was libeled – or if any government functionary believes he/she was slandered — then, the best and most sensible remedy should be a complaint before the court of law. We therefore encourage Mr. President and his agents to follow the dictates of the law on this and other matters.