The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III, on Tuesday told president Goodluck Jonathan in an unequivocal term to grant members of the Boko Haram islamist sect unconditional amnesty like their counterparts in the Niger Delta in the interest of peace in the country.
The Sultan, who is also the President of Jama’atul Nasril Islam, JNI, made the call in Kaduna at the annual meeting of the Central Council of the organisation. He urged the federal government to grant the sect members amnesty without further delay.
He asked President Goodluck Jonathan to declare total amnesty for all the combatants without thinking twice, adding that the gesture would make anyone who fails to take advantage of the amnesty criminals.
“That will make any person who takes up arms to be termed as a criminal. If amnesty is declared, so many of these young men who are tired of running and hiding, would come out and embrace this amnesty,” he said.
“And we believe some of them have already come out because we have heard some of the stories in the papers, in the media.
“Even if it is one person, who is a terrorist and he denounces terrorism, it is the duty of the government to accept that person as he can be used to reach others,” he added.
Mr. Abubakar said the annual meeting of the council is a platform for Muslim leaders to discuss issues and proffer solutions to problems affecting Nigeria.
“We are facing a lot of challenges in this great country of ours; and as Muslims, we have a duty to everybody to ensure that we contribute positively to peace and stability in this country,” he said.
The Sultan decried the spate of attacks across the country, describing the recent one in Wukari, which led to loss of lives and property, as “total madness beyond comprehension”.
“It is the duty of the government to protect all of us, ours is just to advice, and we will continue to advise the government at all level, we will not get tired.
“If they do what they are supposed to do, Alhamdulillahi (praise be to God); if they don’t, we will continue to tell them to do the right thing,” he said.
Mr. Abubakar cautioned religious leaders against propagating falsehood, and to always encourage the public to participate in the polio immunisation.
On his part, the Minister of State for Health, Muhammed Pate, condemned the recent killing of polio workers in Kano and the rejection of the vaccines by some parents.
He urged Muslim leaders to help in dispelling the falsehood being propagated against the polio vaccines so as to end the negative attitude of parents on the exercise.
Mr. Pate said that such falsehoods could jeopardise the healthy future of their children.
“As public health professionals, whatever we do, we want to help save lives; we want to help build healthy society. That is what we are trying to do.
“We will not allow people, who do not have adequate understanding of the issue to misguide the people and prevent the world from eradicating the disease,” he said.
Also speaking, Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State appealed to religious leaders to support government’s efforts at providing unfettered access to education to all children in the state.
He said that education had the capacity to make the children better and responsible citizens with the required competence to compete in the global environment.
“We cannot afford to let our children wallow in ignorance and poverty, while the rest of the world is making ground breaking innovations in science and technology,” he said.
Mr. Yero also stressed the need for partnership with the government at all levels to ensure peace, unity and stability towards national development, adding: “As leaders of the people, you should always preach to your followers on the need for peaceful co-existence with adherents of other religions.’’