A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to drop the proposition to grant amnesty to members of the fundamentalist Boko Haram sect.
In an open letter to the President on Sunday, the group argued that granting amnesty to members of the terrorist group, whose activities had resulted in the death of thousands as well as the displacement of many, would be counter-productive.
It said government’s focus should rather be on getting justice for the killed, maimed and displaced victims of the terrorist group, rather than contemplating amnesty for the terrorists.
The group warned that granting amnesty to the insurgents would only undermine peace and stability in the country, as it would encourage revenge and further violence.
In the said open letter by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said, “Boko Haram should not be allowed to escape the consequences of their crimes if the authorities are to prevent a cycle of revenge leading to further violence and conflict.
“We believe that granting amnesty to Boko Haram would be an open violation of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international law and would entail a virtual denial of justice for victims.
“The international community is pushing for accountability for those who commit the worst of human crimes, and no longer tolerating amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity or other gross violations of human rights.”
SERAP argued that any amnesty for Boko Haram “would take away the rights of the victims to justice, ignore the needs of the internally displaced persons, and never bring ‘closure’ to the mass atrocities committed by the group against Nigerians.”
It added that granting amnesty to the insurgents would prevent the government from addressing some fundamental issues, including the alleged complicity of the armed forces and security services in the atrocities committed by the group.
It added, “Indeed, both individual victims and Nigeria would be disadvantaged by any amnesty to Boko Haram. Besides depriving the country of its opportunity to bring perpetrators to justice, it would also help to create a culture of impunity where perpetrators can anticipate immunity, and thus jeopardise the governing power of the authorities in the future.”