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FG justifies delay on declaring bandits as terrorists

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has explained why the Federal Government was yet to declare bandits as terrorists, saying the delay was to ensure proper procedures were followed in line with global acceptable standards.

He explained that the apex government was yet to designate bandits as terrorist in line with its commitment to meet international best practices with enough evidence to support the new status been designed for the bandits, noting that no efforts would spared in achieving excellence.

The minister who maintained that the government was aware of Nigerians grievances, particularly the apprehension that greeted the delay, noted that while the government understands the importance of taking the action, there was need for proper procedures to be followed.

Malami noted that his office was perfecting plans of gazetting a court judgement that ordered the government to declare bandits as terrorists, adding that the process would be concluded in a matter of days following inputs from relevant stakeholders.

According to him, 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,” Malami announced while speaking on Tuesday as a guest on a popular Television breakfast show.

The minister while there was delayed in issues of bandits, the government was swift in declaring Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Boko Haram as terror groups owing to “threats to lives and properties they have caused in the nation.”

“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.”

Continuing, he said, “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.”

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