by Stanley Azuakola
Nigerians woke up on Thursday, read a quote attributed to former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu, during his Wednesday’s visit to Kano, and let out a collective gasp at what they read.
Bola Tinubu reportedly said in an interview in Kano that: “For the innocent ones among them (Boko Haram), there must be amnesty. We cannot fight a war in our own country against minor crimes and minor people.”
Kano has recently experienced two prominent cases of terrorism: The first one, two months ago, when the convoy of the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, was attacked by terrorists in an assassination attempt. Bayero survived that even though some of his guards lost their lives in the attack. The second case happened only this week, when a bomb blast in a bus park resulted in the deaths of over 25 people.
Tinubu visited Kano to commiserate with both the Emir of Kano and the victims of Monday’s blast.
But questions rose from the reported Tinubu’s quote, like: Is there an innocent member of Boko Haram? How do we define innocence? And what does Tinubu mean by minor crimes and minor people?
Quickly sensing the growing outrage by the reported comment, the media office of the former governor promptly released a statement titled “Quoting Tinubu correctly on amnesty for Boko Haram,” in which they claimed that Tinubu supports amnesty but with conditions. Tinubu’s condition is that “all Boko Haram with blood in their hands” must be brought to justice.
The statement which was signed by the special adviser to Tinubu on Media, Sunday Dare, stated that the actual comment of the ex-governor in Kano was thus:
“I support the granting of amnesty to the sect but with some conditions, which includes justice for those people with blood in their hands because it will go a long way in discouraging such dastardly acts in future. If you called Boko haram ghosts, what of their members that were arrested and are in various prisons? These people are human beings and through them, their colleagues can be known and talked to.”
In the clarification, there was thankfully no mention of “minor crimes” or “innocent Boko Haram members.” The media houses which quoted the governor saying those things, would definitely speak in the coming days if they stand by their relay of the event.
However Tinubu’s clarification has led to more confusion. If the ex-governor indeed supports amnesty, how does he intend to differentiate the members with “blood in their hands” from the Boko Haram members without blood stains. Also, these “colleagues” of jailed Boko Haram members who Tinubu want them to reach out to, are they all free from blood stains in their hands?
Bola Tinubu needs to come out and explain the fine details of his (or the ACN’s/or the APC’s) position on amnesty, otherwise it would be taken simply as a position chosen because it is anti-Aso Rock.