A Federal High Court in Abuja has declared bandits as terrorists.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo in a ruling on Friday declared the activities of the ‘Yan Bindiga Group’ and the ‘Yan Ta’adda Group’ and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones, as “acts of terrorism and illegality.”
Mohammed Abubakar, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), who filed the motion ex-parte, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the proscription of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other terrorist groups in the country.
In its supporting affidavits, the Federal Government said security reports have confirmed that the bandits were responsible for the killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings and related acts of criminality in the north-east, north-central and other parts of the country.
“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.
Delivering ruling, the judge declared the activities of the “Yan Bindiga group” and the “Yan Ta’adda group” and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the north-west and the north-central as “acts of terrorism and illegality”.
The court proscribed the activities of the group as well as other similar groups in any part of Nigeria, “either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called”.
The judge also made an order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described.
The court asked the federal government to publish the proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.
This brings another dimension to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
The defence minister, Bashir Magashi, had said that President Muhammadu Buhari was following due process in declaring marauding bandits as terrorists.
Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, also referred to the bandits terrorising the country, especially the North-West, as terrorists.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to declare bandits as terrorists.
Meanwhile, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has kicked against development, saying such would worsen the insecurity in the country. He had called for amnesty for the armed groups.
Reacting to the development, the Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYC) lauded the court’s decision.
The group in a statement jointly signed by its President, Comrade Isah Abubakar, and its Director General, Media and Publicity, Mock Samuel Kure, also urged the security operatives to prosecute all persons found to be part of the bandits group.
The statement reads, “We will welcome full military operation in Northwestern and North Central parts of the country as it is happening in Northeast against Boko Haram and ISWAP elements which have drastically reduced their activities,” the youths said.
“The Council hereby urged our Armed Forces and other sister security agencies, to arrest and prosecute anybody seen given the terrorists moral support be it materially, morally or otherwise no matter how highly or lowly placed.”
”The Northern Youths will stand with you in your quest to stamp out terrorism in the North and Nigeria at large.”
Below here are some of the reactions harvested on social media;
“Now that the court has declared Bandits as terrorists, Gumi, their spokesman should be arrested when next he goes to parley with them.
“Our newspapers and media outlets should also start calling them terrorists.”(@Hon Oke Umurhohwo)
“Bandits designated as terrorists. It only takes the court to do this. Buhari is not aware of the activities of the bandits.”(@thegoldendot)
“Now that FG has proscribed bandits as terrorists, what next for Sheik Gumi?”(@betaconcept)