President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his pledge to rout Boko Haram insurgents by the end of this year, but declared that he will not resign from office if the promise is not achieved as he would rather “stay and fight it out.”
Buhari, who stated this during a chat with Al Jazeera’s UpFront programme, expressed his readiness to negotiate with the insurgents to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, but noted that “They have to prove to us that they are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them.
“We said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive,” he added.
When asked whether he would offer financial payments or release a prisoner to Boko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not foreclose either option, but said: “it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram.”
While restating the resolve of his government to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015, the President said: “As soon as the rainy season comes (to an end), which is by the end of the year […] Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it [….] Attacks by Boko Haram on townships, on military installations, will certainly stop.”
He went on to deny seeing the Amnesty International report from June 2015, ‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders. “I have not received that report personally,” said Buhari. “If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.”
On the statement credited to him in the past where he expressed for “the total implementation of the sharia in the country,” Buhari pointed out that “Nigerian law does not allow for” so-called sharia punishments, such as stonings and amputations, adding: “I cannot change it. I have not been voted by [a] majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution.”
Speaking on his record as a military dictator in the mid-1980s, and the alleged human-rights abuses that occurred under his watch, he said: “If there is any injustice that can be proved against me when I was there, I will gladly apologize.”
The President, however, refused to concede that his now-notorious ‘war against indiscipline’ in the 1980s featured any such “injustice.”