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Why we've not declared bandits as terrorists – Nigerian govt – Premium Times

Minister of Defence Bashir Salihi Magashi (PHOTO CREDIT: Official Facebook Page)
The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, has said that the need to follow due process was responsible for the delay in declaring bandits as terrorists.
Mr Magashi, who stated this on Friday, in Maiduguri, while fielding questions from journalists, added that there was a procedure that needed to be observed before such a declaration.
“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,” Mr Magashi, a retired major general, said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister, who was in Maiduguri with the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, and service chiefs on an assessment visit of the fight against insurgency in the North-east, expressed satisfaction with the successes so far recorded.
He said his team met with the Theatre Commander and other component commanders to deliberate on the next phase of operations, adding that the meeting also identified problems that required urgent attention to enhance the operations.
Some Nigerians have been demanding the declaration of the bandits, mostly operating in the North-west and North-central zones, as terrorists.
The bandits are responsible for many abductions and the killings of hundreds in the zones in the past months.
Despite negotiations with some state governments, they have continued their operations unabated.
Recently, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State and the Forum of the House of Assembly Speakers, asked the federal government to declare the bandits as terrorists.
Also, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State said the declaration of the bandits as terrorists would enable the military to go all out against them without the fear of running out of international law.
The Senate made a similar call in September.
However, controversial Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, had warned the federal government against taking the step, saying doing so would be deadly.
Mr Gumi has been campaigning for amnesty for the bandits.
He had been to forest in Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States to meet with governors and some terrorists with a view to striking a peace deal with the outlaws.
“The only helpful part that is against bandits is that no other than them are attracted to join them in the North-West because of its ethnic tinge and colouration,” he said.
‘’However, the moment they are termed terrorist – Islamic for that matter— the direct foreign Jihadist movements will set in, in force, and many teeming unemployed youths may find it palatable and attractive.

“Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ plus AK-47 against a ‘secular’ immoral society where impunity reigns are the magnet for extremists and the down-trodden – the majority of our youth.
“This will give criminality a spiritual cover and remove the stigma of discrediting them with such crimes since now they are fighting a ‘jihad’as they will claim.
“In such a situation, does the larger society – as it is — have the moral high ground to fight back?
“This is the most probable consequence, the price of which is not worth it.
“Nothing stops the kinetic actions from going on without the controversy of semantics.’’
However, groups such as Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Middle Belt Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), condemned the cleric for his position.
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