- (Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)
Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization that has targeted Christians and killed close to 3,000 people in the past few years in Nigeria, has not only rejected the government's offer of amnesty, but said the government should be the one begging for a pardon.
"Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you [a] pardon," Abubakar Shekau, the group's leader, said in Hausa language audio recordings, according to AFP News agency.
Boko Haram explained that the numerous bombings and mass shootings it carried out against churches and government buildings in the last few years are part of its mission to drive out Christians from Nigeria. The African country is divided by both geographical and religion lines, with most Christians concentrated in the South and Muslims in the North.
"The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state," Boko Haram said in no uncertain terms in June 2012.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been looking for ways to try and stop the shadowy organization, whose numbers and stations of operation are difficult to track. Nigerian police have engaged in multiple shootouts and have stormed a number of Boko Haram hideouts, but the group remains at large and continues its operations.
BBC noted that earlier in April, Jonathan discussed the possibility of an amnesty for Boko Haram with high-level officials as a means to bring about peace and stop the killing, but so far there are no indications that the terrorist group is willing to accept such a deal.
The Christian Association of Nigeria called the amnesty proposition "a clarion call to all terrorism in Nigeria" and said that Christian leaders in the troubled African nation are opposed to such a deal.
"Mr. President should remember that the amnesty being advocated is for Muslim youths who are the Boko Haram members and who have killed, maimed our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children and also bombed and burnt our churches without provocation," said Simon Dolly, president of CAN's young wing, according to Voice of America.
Dolly added that Christians in Nigeria have not fought back against Boko Haram with violence because CAN, and the Christian faith system is against such retaliation.
CAN's southeastern secretary, Christian Nwanya, argued, however, that the only practical way to stop Boko Haram is increasing security.
"Beef up security. They do not need amnesty. They should apologize [to] Nigerians for killing us," Nwanya said. "You can not forgive someone who kills you. It is not done anywhere."