The Federal Government has failed to officially designate bandits as terrorists three weeks after a Federal High Court ordered the government to do so.
It was learnt that since the judgment was delivered on November 26, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has yet to gazette the order as ordered by the court, thereby failing to give life to the order.
No fewer than four states in the North-West have been battling banditry. The states are Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna. The bandits have killed hundreds of innocent persons, kidnapped several others including schoolchildren, with some still in their custody, while some are nursing injuries sustained during the attacks.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on November 26 granted an ex parte application by the Federal Government for Yan Bindiga (Hausa word for gunmen) and Yan Ta’adda (Hausa word for terrorists) to be declared as terrorists.
The court asked the AGF to publish the order in two national dailies and to also publish the order in the official gazette. Malami had in a statement promised to do so. However, this has not been done three weeks after.
In the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the AGF was able to gazette the designation of IPOB as terrorists on the same day that Justice Abdu Kafarati gave the order on September 20, 2017.
The document signed by the AGF was titled, ‘Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017’ is contained in Volume 104 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.
It read in part, “The gazette, with commencement date of September 20, 2017, read in part, “Notice is hereby given that by the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/871/2017, dated September 20, 2017 as per the schedule to this notice, the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria as proscribed, pursuant to Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention)Act, 2011 (as mended).”
It was also observed that in the case of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the AGF gazetted the proscription order four days after the court gave the order on July 26, 2019.
In an interview, human rights lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said Malami should quickly do the needful before members of the public begin to misread his intentions.
Adegboruwa noted that without the gazette, the court order would not be as effective as it should be.
“Until there is an official gazette properly issued by the Federal Government, you cannot declare any organisation a terrorist group,” he said.
He added, “I believe the Minister of Justice would show good faith because when you compare the manner at which IPOB was declared as a terrorist group and was gazetted, it is not as cumbersome as what we are witnessing.
“He (AGF) should act so that the people would not begin to read meaning into the actions of the government. We need to treat everybody with universal and equal application of law so that we do not begin to accuse the government of having preference for one group against another.”
Adegboruwa noted that delaying the proscription of bandits would continue to embolden them, adding that they had become more vicious in their attacks in recent times.
Meanwhile, attacks by the bandits have intensified in recent months, with not less than 849 persons killed within the past five months, several persons kidnapped and some others injured.
In Katsina State, official figures revealed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Muhammed Inuwa, showed that between July and October 2021, the state witnessed 153 attacks by bandits, which resulted in 213 deaths while 115 people were injured.
Inuwa added that 234 kidnap cases were also witnessed in the same period during which 676 victims were kidnapped.
For November, the Katsina State Police Command on November 18, 2021, lost two officers, namely ASP Yakubu Joshua, attached to 27 Police Mobile Force, Katsina and Sgt Zaharadeen Yuguda attached to Safana Division. They were killed during an encounter with bandits at Baure village, Safana Local Government Area of the state.
The state Police Commissioner, Sanusi Buba, confirmed the development.
Other attacks by bandits that were officially confirmed included those of November 10 in Batsari Local Government Area where 11 people were killed and 13 others injured; November 22 attack at Banawa village, Batagarawa Local Government Area where four people were killed and November 6 attack at Gwarjo village, Matazu Local Government Area where six people were killed.
The real identities of district heads kidnapped during the period were not disclosed.
Also, the actual amount paid as ransom for kidnapped victims’ freedom during the period was not confirmed as many families kept the information to themselves.
In Zamfara State, reports showed that no fewer than 61 persons were killed by bandits in the last two months. The figure only captured those reported in the media.
On Kaura-Namoda-Shinkafi Road, seven persons were killed; in Bargaja village in Gusau LGA, six persons were killed; in Magarya village in Zurmi LGA, three persons were killed; in Magami village in Gusau LGA, seven persons were killed; in Rijiya village in Gusau LGA, six persons were killed; in Shinkafi-Kaura-Namoda Road, three persons were killed; in Yanbuki village in Zurmi LGA, seven persons were killed; in Saka-jiki village in Kaura-Namoda LGA, 12 persons were killed and in Karakkai village in Bungudu LGA, 10 persons were killed.
It was however gathered that 32 bandits were killed by the villagers within the past 60 days.
Similarly, seven soldiers, nine policemen and two members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were killed.
A district head of Magarya village in Zurmi LGA, Alhaji Muazu, died in captivity and the district head of Adabka, Alhaji Nafiu Shehu, was kidnapped and rescued after the payment of N3.5m ransom. The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, was also kidnapped on Kaduna-Abuja highway.
The total amount of money collected by bandits in the state as ransom could not be immediately ascertained.
In Sokoto State, available record indicated that over 191 residents in the eastern flank of the state, comprising seven local government areas; Gada, Goronyo, Gwadabawa, Illela, Isa, Sabon Birni and Tangaza, have been killed within the last two months.
Again, more than 34 persons were kidnapped and whisked to unknown destinations by the bandits.
Confirmed reports indicated that two villages; Gangara and Makwaruwa, in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of the state were currently under the leadership of bandits/terrorists belonging to the dreaded Bello Turji faction.