Welcome to NIGERIA!!!
Where sex is free and love is costly,
Where loosing a phone is more painful than virginity,
Where if you don't cheat on your partner you are not smart and sharp,
Where bathrooms have become a photo studio,
Where getting a blackberry phone is greater than achieving a B.Sc Degree.
Where yahoo guys think they have brighter future.
... keep it rolling by adding yours WonderLand--->NIGERIA!!
The above was a joke I received from a friend yesterday, as funny as it may sound; one undeniable fact is that majority of the costly jokes are true reflections of what we have in our society these days.
The joke ended by asking me to keep it rolling by adding mine, so I added two:
(1) A land where a known thief/rogue who stole Millions of Naira is granted presidential pardon while some citizens have spent 10 years in prison AWAITING trial.
(2) A nation where insurgents ACTUALLY determine the collective political faith of the people.Within the past week, the trending and most popular news in the press and social media has been the purported presidential pardon for the members of the Jama’atul Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram. A report in the Punch news paper suggested that President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday consulted the National Security Council (NSC) on whether or not to grant amnesty to the group.
But what is actually amnesty?
Wikipedia defines amnesty as:
"A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of persons, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of persons who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted"
The Merriam Webster dictionary also defines Amnesty as:
"The act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals".One thing is peculiar to both definitions; the fact that there must be a class of "Persons" or a large group of "individuals". The Wikipedia definition also went a step further to clarify that Amnesty is usually for a POLITICAL Offense.
I have listened and read so many arguments for and against the proposed Amnesty for the Islamic sect, so many people have compared the sect to the once dreaded Niger Delta militants. But I find this odd as there are no linkage between their Methodologies, Ideologies and Mode of Operation/Agitation.During the days of the Niger Delta Militants, they were not "ghosts", their Demands were well spelt out and most of them bothered on the welfare of their people. Their mode of operation never infringed on anyone or group's fundamental human rights.
In contrast, the Boko Haram sect has remained a "ghost" group, metamorphosing from some rag tag religious body to a well-oiled Al-Qaeda linked killing machine.Some of their purported demands includes the "islamization" of the entire country, strict enforcement of the sharia law, the resignation of some "elected" governors in the North and above all, the conversion of President Jonathan to Islam.
Most, if not all their demands out rightly infringes on the cardinal points of the human rights. The demands were considered unattainable, hence the prolonged struggle and massacre of innocent citizens.So the question remains, are we actually granting Amnesty to the dreaded islamic sect or are we systematically surrendering?
What are the social, political and security implication of granting amnesty to the islamic sect?From the Wikipedia definition of Amnesty, it is clear that two conditions must be satisfied for amnesty to be granted to any group of person.First, there must be "a group or class of persons" and the offense must be " a political offense ".Without the above conditions, most especially, the political offense, then we should forget about amnesty and probably talk about a state or presidential pardon.The offense of the Boko Haram sect was never political, it ranges from massacre to ethnic cleansing. Hence, granting amnesty to a terrorist group is not in the best interest of the country as this will portray the country as being weak, incompetent and compromised.
Politically, some group or persons may resort to this guerrilla tactics as a means of gaining negotiating power, as it is believed in some quarters that the Militants in the Niger Delta was a political machine which got the incumbent president the presidential seat; hence, they see the Boko Haram menace as a replica of the Niger Delta militants.This line of reasoning is highly dangerous considering the fact that they see amnesty as a last resort.So, if insurgency does not get you the needed political office or attention, you can easily call for Amnesty and get paid big time.As we wait anxiously for what the Federal government will offer the sect for their bombs, guns and suicide vests, I am of the opinion that this purported Amnesty is ill advised and should be discarded.
Socially, granting Amnesty to Boko Haram will send the wrong signal to the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets of the country from Onitsha to Kano and Lagos that crimes does not just pay, but it pays Big time.Insurgency will soon replace internet scam as the highest employer of labour for the teeming jobless youths.
Security wise, granting Amnesty to the sect will confirm the already heightened suspicion that our security forces are weak, compromised, incompetent and easily "bought over" .
How else can we explain the metamorphosis of Boko Haram from a group of religious extremists to a well connected and coordinated terrorist organization who have the power to strike any part of Nigeria including Abuja at will within three years?
What happened to the huge security budgets every year?
How many suspected member of the dreaded sect has been tried and convicted for these heinous crimes?
What happened to Sani Mohammed and Senator Ali Ndume?
What will happen to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the guerrilla warfare? Recently, I saw a relation who lost her husband and the family business in the Kano bombing.Her five kids are between the ages of 12 and 2. What will the Federal government do to compensate her and other numerous victims?How will her children feel when they grow up and learn that the people who murdered their father was paid some huge amount of money for his guns and bombs?More questions than answers.If the Jonathan government is sincere about dealing with the Boko Haram menace, he should start by thoroughly shaking up his cabinet, the service chiefs and whole security apparatus of the country.The captured commanders of the sect must be sincerely prosecuted in a competent law court without interference from any political, religious or ethnic body.
He must be willing to sacrifice his second term ambition for the better good of the country as he will step on so many toes if he set out to really tackle the problem.But I don't see any of the above suggestions being implemented by this present government as it actually set the first stone rolling when He granted Diepreiye Alamieyeseigha a presidential pardon against all logical reasoning.The purported Amnesty for the sect is nothing but a political tool to appease the North preparatory to the fast approaching 2015 general election, but the long term dangers should be considered as it may also affirm the unpopular quote that "we will make the country ungovernable for Him"!
Mazi Joe writes from Asaba, Delta state
Follow on twitter