Nigerian panel to study amnesty for Islamists
05 April 2013, 12:54
Abuja - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday
formed a panel to look at the possibility of offering an amnesty deal to
Islamist insurgents who have killed hundreds, a presidency source said.
Jonathan has come under intense pressure over the issue,
with politicians from the country's violence-torn north as well as Nigeria's
highest Muslim spiritual figure, the Sultan of Sokoto, calling for an amnesty
Such government panels have previously led to little or no
action in Nigeria, with their reports often quickly cast aside.
The panel is to "consider the feasibility or otherwise
of granting pardon to the Boko Haram adherents", the source told AFP on
condition of anonymity after the president met with the country's security
Violence linked to Islamist extremist group Boko Haram's
insurgency has left at least 3 000 people dead in northern and central Nigeria
since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
The group also claimed the February 19 kidnapping of a
French family of seven over the border in Cameroon. Their whereabouts remain
According to the source, the panel will draw its membership
from the country's National Security Council, which includes the president,
vice president, security officials and others.
Poverty and unemployment
It will be expected to "recommend modalities for the
granting of the pardon should such a step become the logical one to take under
the prevailing circumstance", the source said.
The source said the committee is expected to submit its
report to the president within two weeks.
Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state
in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.
Its demands have however repeatedly shifted and it is
believed to include various factions in addition to imitators.
Nigeria offered an amnesty to militants in the oil-producing
Niger Delta region in the south in 2009 credited with greatly reducing unrest
there, though oil theft has since flourished.
Underlying issues of poverty and unemployment also remain,
with analysts predicting a possible return to unrest in the future.
Nigeria is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and
predominately Christian south.