As some northern leaders mount pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to grant amnesty to the members of Boko Haram, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, has advised the Federal Government to be cautious in its approach to finding solution to the security crisis in the country.
According to the Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, granting amnesty to the fundamentalists must not happen until members of the sect make themselves known and negotiate with the federal government.
While condemning the destruction of innocent lives and property of Nigerians by the sect, Cardinal Okogie, in a statement on Friday, said “it would be callous and unstatemanly of the President to rush into granting amnesty to the sect members without due consideration of the legal, moral and political implications of such a move which he said may send a wrong signal that there was nothing wrong in using criminality to fight perceived injustice.”
Explaining the he is not against granting amnesty to the fundamentalist sect, the Catholic Cardinal stated that “I am not against considering amnesty if the situation warrants it. But as it is, on what basis are we calling for amnesty for the Boko Haram? We have to be cautious about the way we go about it.”
The Cardinal also asked a number of questions saying “I have continued to ask this question: who are the members of this sect who thrive on human blood? Are they truly Nigerians? What exactly do they want? Why don’t they make themselves available for discussion with representatives of the Federal Government? Until we can be given answers to some of these questions, then amnesty should not be a subject of discussion.”
“Even the bible recommends dialogue as a way out of disputes. Granting amnesty to a faceless group that consistently fails to dialogue with you is a mockery. Besides, how do we compensate all those who have lost their loved ones in the over two years of carnage? These are issues we need to address” the clergy stated.
Defaulting constitutional responsibility
The Cardinal however chided the federal government for allowing the security crisis in the country to linger for too long and failing to take decisive steps to nip the insurgency in the bud at the early state, saying it was now almost impossible to identify the true members of the sect and their demands, from those who are now taking advantage of the imbroglio to score cheap political points at the expense of human lives.
According to him, “when a government defaults in its constitutional responsibility like protecting the rights of its citizens, it loses the respect of all and anarchy becomes the order of the day, as we are now witnessing.”
Criticizing the ruling political class, the clergy noted that “if this were a civilized society, many so-called government officials would have long thrown in the towel. But here the situation is different. Rather than those in authority address the menace head-long, they are busy positioning themselves for the 2015 election.”
Cardinal Okogie while sympathizing with families of those who have lost their loved ones due to terrorists activities, prayed that “God would grant the President the divine wisdom and boldness to address decisively with the enormous security challenges in the country, justly and objectively and not to allow himself to be lured into taken the road to self-perdition for political expediency.”