Following agitations to declare bandits as terrorists, it has been reported that the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi , has stated that there is need to follow due process before bandits can be declared as terrorists.
Stating this on Friday in Maiduguri, Magashi said, “We are not declaring them terrorists because there is a procedure for doing that. When the procedure is followed, they will be classified as terrorists. We are waiting for the procedure to be completed.”
In reaction to this submission from the Defence Minister, PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, had probed why the procedures were not followed before the Indigenous People of Biafra and other groups were proscribed by the regime.
Robinson stated that, “PANDEF would want the Minister of Defence to tell Nigerians the things that need to be put in place. The whole thing is ridiculous. The bandits are an extension of Boko Haram terrorising the lives of people in the North-West. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has always tried to evade whatever would make us call them (bandits) terrorists.”
He made it known that, “These persons have gotten out of control but they still have sympathy for them because they use them to promote the imaginary predominance of the North to the rest of the country.”
In addition, the spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, reportedly stated that with the way the regime was playing ‘hanky-panky’ with the issue, it only justified the claims by some that “some powerful interests are connected in it”.
According to him, “First and foremost, he (Magashi) has to be asked to explain what he meant by ‘some procedure being put in place’. It is a statement too ambiguous for Nigerians to understand. This is a matter of life and death. There are lives at stake. It is surprising that we have leaders using politics to cover up their issues.”
Also, the spokesperson, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Alex Ogbonnnia, reportedly disclosed that, “I don’t know why this country is living in denial. This government just loves to paint a picture that all is well when all is bad. It is unfortunate that the Defence Minister up till now has not realised that bandits are supposed to be classified as terrorists.”