Nigerian cardinal, other bishops differ over amnesty negotiations with Boko Haram
CWN - April 18, 2013
Nigeria’s leading prelate has welcomed a government proposal to explore amnesty negotiations with Boko Haram, but made clear that he supports amnesty only if members of the militant Islamist organization repent and make restitution to their victims.
“To continue on the path of simple repression alone does not solve the problem of Boko Haram,” said Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja. “On the contrary it worsens things. So we have to at least consider the possibility of another way of doing things.”
“The amnesty for Boko Haram must be considered as an option to stop the violence,” he continued. “In any war at some point you have to start talking among the contenders and I think that now is the moment. It is better to talk than shoot.”
“In one of my recent speeches, however, I also made it clear that we cannot talk of granting amnesty to those who do not recognize the evil they have done, by repenting,” he added. “Secondly, they must be ready to pay for the evil done, and reimburse the victims. Without these two conditions, amnesty cannot be offered.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan’s guarded support for amnesty negotiations appeared to be at odds with the blanket opposition expressed by several other prelates.
Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan wondered why Nigeria should “grant amnesty to vandals of human souls and bodies,” and retired Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun, who governed the Diocese of Oyo from 1973 to 2009, compared the proposal to “granting amnesty to terrorists – it is unthinkable.”
Bishop Felix Ajakaye of Ekiti added that amnesty could be tantamount to supporting injustice. “And when you go on granting amnesty to this sect, what about the victims of the Boko Haram's insurgency?” he asked.
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