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Boko Haram: Withdrawal of Shehu Sani, Datti Ahmed was shameful- Presidency

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THE Presidency broke its silence on the withdrawal of two members – activist Shehu Sani and Islamic cleric Datti Ahmed – from the 26-member Presidential Committee on the North’s security. It said the withdrawal of the duo was shameful.

The Special Adviser to the President on Public Communication, Dr Doyin Okupe, who spoke in Lagos, accused Sani and Ahmed of being selfish for engaging in acts unbecoming of patriots.

Okupe spoke even as Presidency said there was no going back on its amnesty plan for Boko Haram.

He said: “I feel that their influence has been reduced. They wanted to do it alone and take personal glory. But with the committee in place now, they decided to pull out.

“Withdrawing from that committee is shameful. If the government invited you, you should feel free and happy to serve.”

It was learnt that the Presidency might adopt an “open” approach by mandating the amnesty committee to “begin dialogue with willing Boko Haram leaders and factions”.

Besides, the Federal Government is banking on prominent Emirs, political leaders and clerics to assist in seeing the amnesty programme through.

The fate of Boko Haram detainees, their wives and children will depend on the recommendation of the amnesty panel.

Sani, who is the President of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), yesterday declined entreaties from prominent leaders of the North to take another look at his withdrawal from the amnesty panel as he said there is “no change of mind” in his decision. President Goodluck Jonathan had on Wednesday named a 26-man Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North.

A top government source told The Nation: “While the government is leaving a window for those with direct link to Boko Haram leaders to have a rethink, it is going ahead with the amnesty plan.

“The fact is that not all Boko Haram leaders are opposed to dialogue or amnesty. The committee might start its dialogue with some leaders of the sect who have offered to cease fire. There are also some leaders in detention who can offer recipe on the way forward.

“Do not forget that Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, had opened discussion with 11 key commanders of Boko Haram in May last year, including one of the top leaders of the sect, like Sheikh Asheku.

“Although the meeting was at the instance of the governor, others who participated were a representative of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, the Borno

State Director of State Security Service (SSS), the state’s Commissioner of Police, an intelligence officer from the military along with the state deputy governor, Mustapha Umar Zannah.

“What I am saying is that already there are some platforms in place to open dialogue with Boko Haram by the amnesty committee. The tone of dialogue or amnesty may serve as impetus to the spiritual leader of the sect, Imam Abubakar Shekau and other commanders declared wanted.

“The ultimate discussion and reconciliation with Shekau would serve as the icing on the cake.”

Another source said: “The government is also depending on some Emirs and leaders in the North to facilitate dialogue with the leadership of the sect led by Shekau.

“Some Northern leaders and clerics are begging Shehu Sani and Dr. Datti Ahmed to change their mind to serve on the dialogue committee.

“We are hopeful that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

When asked if he has had a rethink, Sani said: “I have no change of mind at all.”


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