President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, and other security agencies to immediately start treating bandits and anyone found holding arms illegally across the country as a terrorist.
Buhari said that anyone holding arms illegally and using them to threaten fellow citizens was against the peace and harmony of the country and should be treated as a terrorist.
The president’s directives came barely four days after an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court preceded over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, ruled that bandit groups constituted acts of terrorism in the country and should be treated as same by the government.
These directives were disclosed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday while responding to questions on a popular television show, and said: “that is why we approached the court to seek legal backing on this”.
Malami noted that the court judgement would be gazetted soon, noting, pending that time, the military has been directed to treat bandits in the appropriate manner they understand.
“And in order not to violate any fundamental human right, the government approached a court to get a judgement and was granted.
“The judgement will be gazette soon but while we wait for that, the military has been directed to treat anyone found holding arms illegally as bandits”, the Minister of justice added
Earlier, the verdict strengthens the call on the federal government to declare bandits ravaging the North-western and the North-central regions as terrorists.
The bandits have been vicious in kidnapping and killing their captives across Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue and Sokoto states.
In his ruling, the judge, Taiwo Taiwo, specifically held that the activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups constitute acts of terrorism.
According to court documents, the federal government based its decision on security reports, which confirmed that the bandits were responsible for the “killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings,” in northern Nigeria.
The government further blamed the group for the growing cases of “banditry, incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, 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 on commuters and wanton destruction of lives and properties in Nigeria, particularly in the North-west and North-central states in Nigeria being carried out by Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other groups associated with or engaged in the same or similar activities as Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups in Nigeria.”
“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,” the government said.