igerians reacted with a collective sense of relief when the Federal High Court in Abuja declared bandits to be terrorists on November 26, 2021.
The judge, Mr. Taiwo Taiwo, who was considering the ex-parte application filed by Mohammed Abubakar, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, specifically held that the activities of the Yan Bindiga and Yan Taadda bandit groups constitute acts of terrorism in a ruling that was a balm for many Nigerian wounds.
The unscrupulous crooks who have been impaling Nigerians on the pikes of dread and anguish for a long time now have always had it coming to them. Indeed, the robbers have left hideous footprints everywhere in Nigeria, particularly in the North-West and North-Central.
Zamfara State served as a base of operations for the bandits at first. The robbers’ cruelty garnered widespread attention, especially as Nigerians found that the state’s rapacity was motivated by the finding of gold.
Bandits have wreaked havoc in Sokoto State, the caliphate’s seat. Bandits in the state are fed up with simply kidnapping individuals and holding them for ransom. They devise taxes, which they wield like the sword on the necks of disadvantaged communities.
Bandits have reportedly taken over 500 settlements in Niger State, similar to Sokoto. The kidnapping of over a hundred students, some as young as four, in Tegina a few months ago, and their enslavement for eighty-nine days, sent shockwaves throughout the country. The bandits in Zagzaga recently demonstrated their ability to be astute consultants by advising worried relatives of their victims to sell their farm produce to pay ransom.
If Zamfara was the birthplace of Nigerian banditry, Kaduna, one of the country’s most recognizable states, has subsequently proven to be its kindergaten. Bandits have perfected and remade some of their most lethal techniques in Kaduna State, mocking Nigeria’s ‘Center of learning,’ which is home to disproportionately many public institutions, including prominent military colleges.
Many schools have been stormed, and kids have been kidnapped and held for ransom. When the previously impregnable Nigerian Defence Academy was infiltrated in August, the entire country was shocked, with many fearing that iron would rust as quickly as gold.
The criminals have turned the Abuja-Kaduna expressway into Nigeria’s and probably Africa’s bloodiest road. Criminals intercept automobiles on the road every day, killing or abducting commuters for extortionate ransoms.
But what exactly is the significance of a name? What difference will it make now that the barracudas have been identified? There is a lot.
Opacity has been a challenge for Nigeria as it has suffered repeated thuds from master crooks. For one thing, the robbers’ newly discovered identity as terrorists will highlight Nigeria’s horrific foe. It will help to make the fight more transparent. Ripping the curtain that has been covering the bandits for so long would allow Nigeria’s security services to demonstrate to the bandits that Nigeria can bite.
Given the bandits’ horrible actions, which have been going on for far too long, it has taken an inexcusable long time to call them out for what they are. This was caused by a number of factors.
There was the Islamic cleric who chillingly warned a country of over 200 million people that calling the bandits “terrorists” would inflame their rage; there were those who argued that a name was meaningless as long as the snake’s head was removed; and there were those who argued that the bandits could not properly be called terrorists based on the strict definition of terrorism and its terminologies.
But in war — a battle waged by the bandits against Nigeria and Nigerians – all is fair, and the bandits’ designation as terrorists is a victory for Nigerians. They have been embarrassing the country for far too long, and it is past time they got their due.
Because what is good for the goose is good for the gander, now that the bandits have been declared terrorists, they must be forced to nestle in a nettle nest identical to the one created for Boko Haram and the IPOB. They must be made to feel the ferocious fury with which Nigeria defends its people. For far too long, their irrational behavior has been accepted.
There can be no hesitation or regard to anything but the law in this situation. One of the most difficult aspects of Nigerian justice is the tendency to award various strokes to different people based on misdirected and erroneous sympathies. It cannot be that way now, can it?
Now that additional terrorists have arrived in town, state actors must return the barbaric criminals’ fire, rather than using their fury to slaughter innocent protestors.
Declaring bandits as terrorists is one thing, and going after them neck to neck is another thing. It is not enough for the Federal Government to ‘name’ them, sit back and watch while they carry on their nefarious and deadly activities on Nigeria’s highways, towns and cities like pupil having a field day on the school’s playground. That would only amount to nothing and that would not change the outcome of the present predicament bandits have plunged the state of the federation into.
No longer should the Law Enforcement Agency in the land treat these so-called faceless bandits with kids gloves as did before this inaugural naming of bandits as terrorists just because the bandits are alleged to hail from the same region and ethnicity as the hands that drive the political gear of the land.
Hence, this has to stop and all strength must be pulled together from the makers of the law, to the enforcers of the law to the commoners, to making sure that these bandits and their long-standing sponsors are flushed out in due course dead or alive, and made to face the full weight of the law.