Nigeria has resolved to deploy more lethal weapons and deadly air strikes against bandits. This follows court’s declaration of the criminals as terrorists.
This was revealed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami on Friday.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in a ruling, declared activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups as acts of terrorism.
The ruling followed an ex-parte motion filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation Mohammed Abubakar.
The DPPF told the court that the ex parte application was filed on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, it was averred that security reports confirmed that bandits were behind incessant kidnappings for ransom.
“They are into cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters and wanton destruction of lives and property in Nigeria, particularly in the North-West and North-Central states in Nigeria.”
According to the affidavit, “the activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other similar groups constitute acts of terrorism that can lead to a breakdown of public order and safety and is a threat to national security and the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
Justice Taiwo declared the activities of the Yan Bindiga, group” and the “Yan Ta’adda groups and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the North-West and the North-Central as “acts of terrorism and illegality.”
The judge also made “an order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described.”
The court directed the Federal Government to publish the proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.
According Mr Malami, the declaration of bandits as terrorist is a demonstration of the Federal Government in doing things in accordance with the rule of law.
"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.
He said the Federal Government of Nigeria has taken bold steps to deal ruthlessly with all terrorists groups and their sponsors in efforts to bring lasting solution to insecurity challenges in the country.
The Nigerian Air Force has been placed on the alert to deploy Super Tucano fighter jets in the North-West and North-Central regions of the country, especially in Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna and Zamfara states where more than 570 people have been killed by bandits and over 5,690 kidnapped in five months.
The military had been reluctant to deploy the aircraft outside the North-East where it is battling insurgents because of the conditions attached to the sale of the aircraft by the United States, which was anchored on human rights.
The declaration of bandits as terrorists has cleared the coast for the deployment of superior and highly technical and deadly weapons in tackling the menace.
Meanwhile, the Northern Youths Council of Nigeria, has supported the declaration of bandits as terrorists.
The President of the Council, Mr Isah Abubakar, said though it took the Federal Government almost an eternity to heed widespread calls to declare bandits as terrorists, it was better late than never.
“We will welcome full military operation in the north western and north-central parts of the country as it is happening in the North-East against Boko Haram and ISWAP elements which has drastically reduced their activities.”
The group urged the Armed Forces to “crush anybody seen giving the terrorists moral support, be it materially, morally or otherwise, no matter how highly or lowly placed”.
“The northern youths will stand with you in your quest to stamp out terrorism from the North and Nigeria at large,” he said.