The Nigerian government on friday has reacted to a court judgement which pronounced bandits as terrorists.
Recall that a court sitting in Abuja had proscribed Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups and have subsequently declared that their activities constitute acts of terrorism.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, presiding judge, granted the order on Thursday following an exparte motion filed by the Director, Public prosecution (DPP), Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar.
Reacting to the declaration , The Attorney-General of the Federation and Ministry of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN said in a statement that the Federal Government’s determination to crush banditry is unwavering.
Malami said the court judgment shows that the federal government is taking the necessary steps to end banditry in the country.
“The development is a pointer to the commitment of the federal government to adhere to the international standards in respecting the rules of engagement in the fight against terrorism, separatists’ organisations, insurgency and banditry in the country,” he said.
“By this declaration, the federal government of Nigeria has taken bold steps to deal ruthlessly with all terrorist groups and their sponsors in efforts to bring a lasting solution to the myriad of insecurity challenges in the country.
“The office of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice in collaboration with relevant government agencies, including security operatives, are working assiduously to do the needful to take full advantage of this declaration.
The AGF stated that acts of terror are responsible for the myriad of insecurity challenges in Nigeria.
In line with the order of the court, Malami assured Nigerians that “the government will gazette, publish the publicise the proscription order.”
DECLARATION IS POLITICAL, WON’T CHANGE ANYTHING – Gumi Reacts
But Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi,was far from impressed yesterday by the development.
He branded it a decision taken for mere political expediency, and one that will change nothing.
“I think the Federal Government has succumbed to media blackmail by a section of the country,” he said in a statement issued through his media consultant, Malam Tukur Mamu.
“It will not have any practical value because even before the declaration they were being fought and treated as terrorists,” he said.
Continuing, Gumi said: “So, it’s just a nomenclature which I believe will not change the dynamics on ground.
“If you can remember IPOB was also declared a terrorist organisation, the declaration was even backed by the order of the court but as you can see even the international community did not recognize FG’s declaration of IPOB. So it has failed to be effective or to achieve the desired results.”
“They have not been banned from travelling to other countries while their citizenship remains intact, it has not been denounced. So what type of declaration is that?
“I sincerely hope that Nigerians will not take the herdsmen as terrorists but should regard the criminality of the few among them against innocent people as acts of terrorism just as we see IPOB and their attacks on security agencies and other northern citizens as acts of terrorism. Very few herdsmen are bandits if you go through their population.
“I hope this declaration will not give the license to people to be profiling herdsmen in general as terrorists and taking laws into their hands against them. It will cause more mayhem.
“The declaration will not change anything; it will not change the dynamics. Already the military is engaging them. It didn’t stop them from kidnapping and killing. The declaration will not end their aggression against the society.
“The Fulani banditry is a socio-economic problem. We have seen it, we interacted widely with them. We told the the way out. It can only be won through engagement, dialogue and justice. That is why today there is relative peace in the Niger Delta because government has accepted the painful reality of rehabilitating and empowering them.
“There has to be equitable distribution of wealth in Nigeria and justice for everyone. People don’t want to accept it: before the issue of banditry that now affects all of us, the Fulanis had suffered so much.
“They have lost their legitimate means of livelihood, I mean their cows through cattle rustling and extortion by security agencies. That has to be addressed as a means of genuine reconciliation and integration. They should have sense of belonging.”
Gumi, it was, who went into the dens of the terrorists in Niger and Zamfara states to dialogue with them in the aftermath of the kidnapping of students in the two states.