By Daud Olatunji, Abeokuta
The Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Friday said that the rationale behind the rejection of amnesty offered by the Federal Government to the dreaded Boko Haram sect was to increase their bargaining power with the government.
The NSCIA however, warned the Federal Government against abdicating its responsibility of protecting the citizens, saying , security of lives and property was the primary responsibility of the government.
Addressing newsmen in Abeokuta after observing Jumat service at Kobiti Central Mosque, the newly appointed Secretary-General of NSCIA, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, said, “no amnesty has been offered to these people. When it is offered, it’s normal that when you have people in conflict, when you start to settle the matter, you will not expect everybody to say yes. You have two parties and one says look let us solve it, definitely the other will say no, at least to increase their bargaining power.
“ I think that is normal. The right thing to do is for us to continue working towards a goal of peaceful dialogue. I’m happy to note yesterday that the minister for special duties, acting as the chairman of the new committee, has started interacting. Because we have been saying it; these people exist.”
“ Government cannot say they are ghosts because many of them are in government custody. So, if they are in government custody and they are not ghosts by the time we put them in prison, how can we now say they are ghosts because we don’t want to talk to them? I think the issue is that some of them are in government custody; let’s start from there.
“ Let’s scholars also interact with them, because that is the problem with us. America is coming all the way from where it is to come here and interact with these people, to have first-hand information with a view to increasing their own knowledge and scholarship about what is going on. Our own scholars are not allowed to interact with them. At the end of the day, if you want to know about Boko Haram, you’ll now go to Britain, America.
“ Even for the sake of scholarship, Islamic scholars should be given access to those of them who are in custody. And I think our security agencies should also be accurate. They should not give a story today and another story tomorrow. If you say somebody is the mastermind of it, we want to believe because we want to believe that you have your facts.
“But if you go to court and you now charge the person for another offence, other than the one that you have publicized in the media, we could start to have our fears. That is why security agencies are creating undue attraction to those who are committing evil. If we don’t want to make up stories against them, if we say it as it is, then it will be possible for the society to come together and deal with criminals among us,” Oloyede, a former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin said.