According to my Mariam Webster dictionary, amnesty comes from the root words amnestia (Greek) and amnestos (French), which mean “forgetfulness and forgotten” respectively. Pardon is defined as “excusing an offense without penalty”. An amnesty is really a pardon given to a large group of individuals. Forgive my etymological introduction along with these definitions, but I feel we really need to know the meaning of some of these recent admissions to our daily lingo, courtesy our government. So if we are to substitute these with their meanings, we can say the government has set up a committee to see if and how it can “FORGET” the atrocities carried out on the citizenry and people of this country; cue Michael Jackson: “all I want to say is that they don’t really care about us”!
It would be argued that anything that will bring peace should be explored, but at what cost? While the government is preparing to forget, what advise does it have for a girl that woke up with a family but went to bed being the only member of that same family alive as the others died in a church bombing during the day; for the parents of James and John a set of twin boys whose throats where slashed in the presence of their senior sister and mother; to Nonso that has lost his livelihood because his shop had the misfortune of being situated across the narrow road from a church that was bombed; the families of seven foreigners abducted and killed in Yobe? Should they forget too?
While the committee sets off on its task, let me introduce another concept that seems to be forgotten or relegated, one that should be considered far above any other thing: JUSTICE. For the families that have been affected, for the Nigerian state that has been so treasonably challenged (by the way, treason is punishable by death), and for every other person that has been remotely connected in one way or the other.
This committee should consider the precedence that their decision would lay; fairness to consider Henry Okah and others convicted for the October 1st bombings in Nigeria, and the evaporation of the moral right of the government to prosecute to the full extent of the law, every crime that falls within this ambit or lesser.
I do not think the government will be doing itself any good seeking a path that portrays it as being weak and seeking a less confrontational way out of a situation that tests its military and intelligence strengths. Are we and any other person that hears this meant to believe that the State lacks the capacity to defend its integrity, protect its people, and bring to justice those that oppose these duties?
If accepted, the amnesty may end the attacks; but for how long before another group emerges? It would cast an image of a country that tacitly supports terrorism through inaction to the internationally community and cost us allies that choose confrontation over condoning.
Most of all, it would divert attention from the root causes, leaving them unattended to, ensuring the existence of a fertile ground from which other groups, and negative socio-economic vices could easily sprout. We have to attend to the issues from the root, not seemingly attempting to climb a ladder from the middle as is so often the case with tackling most issues in Nigeria.
Let the committee know that the eyes of Nigerians and the world are on them and also remember that the words are: “to build a nation where peace and justice (not amnesty) shall reign”!!!!!!
God bless Nigeria.