A pan-north group, Northern Development Forum, has issued a two weeks ultimatum to the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to grant amnesty to Boko Haram and bandits in the North to foster national inclusivity.
The group premised its demand on what it called the “prosperous life now being lived by ex-agitators in the Niger Delta”.
It warned that it cannot guarantee peace in the north if its demands are not met.
In a letter by its spokesperson, Sheriff Abubakar, the NDF said the only way the North will have a respite from incessant attacks from Boko Haram and bandits is for the Tinubu government to grant amnesty to the rebels just like the late Umar Musa Yar’adua did on assumption of office in 2009 for Niger Delta agitators.
The group further stated that for 15 years and counting, the Niger Delta militants have enjoyed an unprecedented patronage from the Nigerian Government, leaving them in the North in abject poverty and deprivation.
It listed its demands for Boko Haram and bandits to include: Declaration of Amnesty, provision of scholarship, capacity building and establishment of cooperative scheme.
The letter, titled: “Urgent Call for Amnesty for Northern Agitators,” reads:
“Dear President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,
“We are writing you today as concerned citizens and advocate for justice and unity in our great nation. Recent events have brought to light the urgent need for amnesty to be granted to Northern agitators popularly known as Boko Haram and bandits, paralleling the historic amnesty granted to Niger-Delta militants during the tenure of our late brother, President Umar Yar’adua (Allah Yarhamuh).
“We strongly urge you to consider this proposal and take decisive action to promote peace, inclusivity, and national cohesion.
“We are aware that on account of Amnesty to Niger Delta agitators, some of them have transitioned to politicians holding critical positions as Speaker of State House of Assembly, House of Representatives member, members of State Assemblies, among other sensitive political offices while others are now successful business people creating wealth and jobs. We want the same for Boko Haram and bandits.
“The Niger-Delta amnesty program, initiated in 2009, played a pivotal role in mitigating the conflicts in the region and fostering lasting peace. The program offered a pathway for former militants to reintegrate into society, providing them with rehabilitation, education, and employment opportunities.
“Today, we find ourselves facing a similar situation in the North, where agitations and conflicts have escalated to an alarming dimension. It is imperative that we do not ignore the plight of our fellow citizens who are voicing their concerns through agitations.
“We understand that quite a number of Boko Haram insurgents have been pardoned and rehabilitated through De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) program of the Nigerian Army but more need to still be done.
“Granting amnesty to agitators in the North would not only address their grievances but also pave the way for a more united and prosperous Nigeria.
“By extending amnesty to Northern agitators, we would send a powerful message of inclusivity, justice, and fairness. It would provide a much-needed opportunity for dialogue and reconciliation, allowing all parties to come together to find sustainable solutions to the issues that have plagued our nation.
“Mr. President, if Amnesty is granted to these local gangs, it would allow those involved to lay down their arms, embrace peaceful means of expression, and contribute positively to the development of our beloved country.
“Furthermore, this act of amnesty would highlight your administration’s commitment to upholding the principles of equity and equality before the law. It would demonstrate that every citizen, regardless of their geographical location or ethnic background, is entitled to the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Such a move would foster trust, build bridges, and foster a sense of national unity that is indispensable for our progress as a nation.
“We implore you, Mr. President, to act with wisdom, compassion, and foresight in granting amnesty to Northern agitators. Your decisive action in this matter has the potential to bring about a transformative change and create an environment where every Nigerian can thrive. We firmly believe that by drawing on the precedent set by the Niger-Delta amnesty, we can overcome division and strife, forging a path towards a more peaceful, prosperous, and united Nigeria.
“Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. We eagerly anticipate your positive response and the courageous steps you will take to ensure a brighter future for our nation.”