Why bandits haven't been declared terrorists - FG

Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN)
Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN)File

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has revealed why the Federal Government is holding back from declaring bandits as terrorists.

Speaking during his appearance on NTA Good Morning Nigeria Show on Tuesday, Malami said that the government was following international best practices on its dealing with bandits despite a court judgement that ordered the government to declare them terrorists

He added that the government is following a process that will be concluded in a matter of days.

Bandits have become notorious in the northern part of the country by contributing to the spate of insecurity in the region coated with kidnappings and killings.

Sahara Reporters quoting a private data consulting agency, Statisense, reported that no fewer than 32 persons were killed while 17 were abducted by terrorists and bandits everyday between January and June 2021.

“According to Nigeria Security Tracker security incident report, there have been 5,800 deaths and 2,943 kidnappees between January and June 2021. That’s approximately 32 deaths per day, and 17 kidnappees per day,” Statisense said in the report published in December 2021.

Reacting to why the government was quick to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra, and Boko Haram as terrorists, Malami sighted the “threats to lives and properties they have caused in the nation.”

He added, “Government has a responsibility to act but within the context of acting, you equally expected to operate within the confines of international best practices associated with engagement and one of such best practices is that you can only use maximum force on groups, individuals that are declared terrorists and that is where the application of the Terrorism Act comes in place.

“With that in mind, Nigeria acted, first by proscribing IPOB, taking into consideration the threats to lives and properties they have caused in the nation. Boko Haram was proscribed.”

“Now, we are confronted with another threat in the North-West associated with banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and in all these, these people are using weapons to attack Nigerians, kidnap them and created a situation of serious security challenge and fear in the system.

“Whatever military hardware you acquire there are limits within the context of the international convention as to how it can be used, when it can be used and against who it can be used. And that is how the idea of looking at the activities of the bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers come into being.

“Our assessment taking into consideration that they are causing a major threat to the territorial peaceful co-existence and causing a major threat to lives with weapons, the idea then came about that indeed they (bandits) have satisfied the criteria of being declared terrorists within the context of the law so that whatever military hardware at the disposal of the Federal Government can best be used against them within the context of the international convention and within the context of the law.”

Speaking further, Malami noted that “The gazetting of a court order or judgement is a process but what matters fundamentally within the context of international convention is the judicial declaration and that has been obtained; the court has declared bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers as terrorists.

“So, with or without the gazette, what gives effect to such declaration is a judicial pronouncement but the gazette is a mere formality and it has been on and I believe within a matter of days, it will be concluded.”

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