Two days after youth minister Boni Haruna said President Goodluck Jonathan had granted amnesty to Boko Haram, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati has denied there was such an offer.
Talking to the media on Saturday, Abati said there was nowhere in the Democracy Day speech on Thursday that the president made such an offer.
At a youth event attended by the president same day, Haruna had said: “President Goodluck Jonathan has declared amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect. A series of integration programmes have been lined up for the members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace.
“Let me use this opportunity on behalf of the federal government to call on the members of the Boko Haram sect to embrace the government’s gesture and key into amnesty programme.”
Northern governors had also urged the insurgents to take advantage of the amnesty offer and turn a new leaf.
But Abati said the president did not use any word like “amnesty”.
He maintained that what Jonathan said was that opportunity had been created for those who want to denounce terrorism through the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee and Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolutions of Conflict in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.
He said: “Let me refer you to the speech by the president. If you read the speech line-by-line, you will see that it contains the very message that the President wanted to put across.
“In that speech, if you look at, it I don’t think the president used amnesty, instead he spoke about those who are willing to renounce terrorism and those who are willing to embrace peace.”
The discordant tune from government officials has been loud in recent times.
When Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau asked for a prisoner swap deal for the release of the Chibok schoolgirls, interior minister Abba Moro said government was not going to negotiate while minister of special duties Taminu Turaki said government would consider the option.
It was also reported recently that the president would visit Chibok, but Abati said there was no such plan, even though state house correspondents said preparations had been made for the trip.