The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has described as baseless the accusation in certain quarters that it was treating bandits with kid-gloves, saying the claim was ‘erroneous and misleading’, particularly an injustice to the anti-terrorism fight of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
He clarified that the approach of the federal government through the military in treating criminals is not to make a distinction between bandits and terrorists, noting that banditry was criminality with no basis on religion or ideology.
Speaking on the renewed onslaught against bandits during a popular TV show on Tuesday, the minister said that it was senseless for the military to treat bandits, who are killing soldiers and policemen, with kid-gloves.
According to him, I think we have been dancing around nomenclature, a criminal is a criminal whether it is a bandit or terrorist and the same measure is being meted out to them.
“That is why we find it ridiculous, the accusation that the federal government is softer on bandits than the separatists and other criminals. This is a fallacy, fake news and misinformation all into one, and this is the kind of divisive rhetoric being promoted by some naysayers,’’ he said.
Mohammed added that the method of the military in fighting criminality through the land and air would not allow for any distinction between bandits and other criminals.
Mohammed said that with the renewed onslaught against bandits and certain measures taken by the governors of the states where bandits are operating, they are winning the war.
He said that the governors had learnt from the mistakes of the past and had resolved that they would not negotiate with bandits but to go after them and not spare them.
Mohammed said measures, such as suspension of mobile telecommunication networks in certain areas and the ban on the sale of petroleum products in jerry cans at filling stations around the land borders are yielding results.
He added that the ban on the sale of fairly used motorcycles in some markets and restriction on the use of “junction motor parks’’ in the states are also yielding results.