The amnesty committee explained the basis for its recommendation.
The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in Northern Nigeria (amnesty committee) said on Thursday that it recommended the release of wives and children of suspected Boko Haram members to facilitate the success of its assignment.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday directed the release of some members of the Jama’atu Ahlul Sunnah Lid da’awati Jihad (Boko Haram) in line with the recommendations of the committee set up in April. All women, and children are to be the first to be released.
Kabir Turaki, the Committee’s Chairman and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, said, while speaking to newsmen after a courtesy visit to Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State, that the recommendation was in order for the committee to succeed in its amnesty negotiations .
“In the course of our interaction, we have come across some categories of vulnerable persons and we feel as a committee that even before we conclude our reports, there is a need for us to make intervention to the governments, so that some of these vulnerable persons will be released.
“And thank God as a mark of sincerity on the part of this committee and as a mark of confidence that the government has on this committee, our recommendation that some of these vulnerable persons should be released was accepted and the processes is an ongoing thing.
“As we see them, we make recommendation to government, and as we make recommendation to government, these persons will be released in terms of the accepted procedure, which is that they will be handed over to their state governments,’’ he stated.
Mr. Turaki said the released persons will be handed over to their state governments for support, rehabilitation, integration and protection against any further threats.
“Some of them will need a lot of support; some of them will need rehabilitation; some of them are in a position in which they even need protection against other persons.
“So it is important that these people that are in this situation are not left on their own and at the end of the day, the release that government will make may end up not being beneficial to them.
“So, to make sure that every person that is released upon our intervention enjoys the full benefit of that release, government came up with this arrangement so that people will now be integrated, rehabilitated, and then people will now be taken back into the society so that the issue of prejudice, issue of stigma will also be removed,’’ he said.
The chairman, therefore, appealed to Nigerians not to link the committee with members of the Boko Haram sect, adding that the insurgency was not prevalent in the North only. He said it was a national problem that should be of concern to all Nigerians, irrespective of their ethno-religious dispositions.
Mr. Turaki said the mandate of the committee included engaging key members of Boko Haram in constructive dialogue, and define a workable and comprehensive framework for disarmament within 60 days peace; not just in the north, but the whole nation.
Responding , Governor Yero stressed the need for the use of dialogue in any crisis situation to express grievances.
He said dialogue had a way of dealing with mistrust and resolving crisis. He tasked the committee to look at the causes of the insecurity in its discussions with other stakeholders and proffer solutions that would bring it to an end.
The governor, however, stressed the need for justice, fairness, prosecution of offenders and strict enforcement of the law to resolve the security challenges in the country.
“If there is justice, fairness and enforcement of law, whoever, no matter your position, nobody is supposed to be above the law, believe you me, in the next six months, if these things are done, Nigeria will be a good place for people to live in peace.
“But whatever we are going to do if we are not going to do it in that line, we are only going to have it on paper and it cannot be implemented,” he said.
Mr. Yero, therefore, reiterated the commitment of the state government to addressing the security challenges in the state. He gave the assurance that the state government would implement suitable submissions received in the course of the Peace Building meeting.
Critics including the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria have questioned the continued existence of the amnesty committee after the declaration of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States by President Jonathan.