A Nigerian cardinal has lent his support to a proposal to offer amnesty for members of the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
Most Boko Haram fighters have no interest in the groups Islamist ideology, said Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need during a visit to New York, the Nigerian prelate said that the terrorist group has forced men into combat roles, and if they are offered an opportunity to leave, “up to 70% or 80% will want to come out.”
The cardinal’s suggestion comes at a time when Nigerian forces are reporting breakthroughs in their battle to suppress Boko Haram—reports that leaders of the Islamicist group have denied. Cardinal Onaiyekan reported that the government’s claims are accurate. “They no longer control large sections of our national territory,” he said. “They no longer hold areas that are out of bounds to everybody but them–but they are still around and can create havoc.”
The cardinal said that since taking power in May, President Mohammadu Buhari has made strides in combating Boko Haram, forming alliances with neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and capitalizing on support from the US and France.