Religion of Thursday, 18 April 2013
Nigeria has formed a 26-member panel that will offer Islamic extremists amnesty if they stop their campaign of terror which has killed hundreds in the north of the country, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The panel, created by President Goodluck Jonathan, has a 60-day deadline to come up with an offer for militants belonging to the Islamic extremist network Boko Haram and other groups now fighting against government forces and killing civilians.
A similar program in 2009 worked to halt the majority of attacks by militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, though those fighting in the north have in the past rejected the idea.
The presidential committee, including police and military officials, as well as politicians and human rights activists, would “constructively engage key members of Boko Haram and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country,” according to a statement issued by presidential spokesman Reuben Abati.
The committee also would offer a “comprehensive victims’ support program,” though the statement offered no further details about it.
The presidency said it hoped disarming Islamic extremists would happen within two months’ time, an ambitious goal that likely will be extremely difficult.
Despite the deployment of more soldiers and police to northern Nigeria, the nation’s weak central government has been unable to stop the killings.
Meanwhile, human rights groups and local citizens blame both Boko Haram and security forces for committing violent atrocities against the local civilian population, fueling rage in the region.