Official refusal to declare bandits as terrorists -GCFRNG
It is public knowledge that the dangerous criminal elements who abducted girls from Chibok and Dapchi high schools in the Northeast area in 2014 and 2017, respectively, were not referred to as bandits.
They were called terrorists by the Federal Government and the media. The description was correct as the kidnappings carried out by criminal elements were acts of terrorism.
But for reasons best known to the Federal Government, the criminal elements that are currently involved in the brutal slaughter of innocent people and the kidnapping of thousands of people, including elementary school students in the Northwest Zone, are called bandits and not terrorists.
A few weeks ago, the so-called bandits shot down a fighter plane belonging to the Nigerian Air Force. Interestingly, the Federal Government and the media reported that the vile act was perpetrated by a band of bandits.
But contrary to such a misleading description of terrorists as bandits, the chaos and violent attacks unleashed against unarmed people and the deliberate destruction of property by dangerous criminal elements are classified as “acts of terrorism” under the Prevention Act. of Terrorism of 2011, modified by the Law of Prevention of Terrorism. (Amendment) Law of 2013. For the avoidance of doubt, Article 2 of the Law on Prevention of Terrorism establishes the following:
“Act of terrorism” means an act that is carried out deliberately with malice, premeditation and that:
(a) may harm or seriously harm a country or an international organization;
(b) has the intention or can be reasonably considered to have the intention of:
(i) unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or refrain from performing any act,
(ii) seriously intimidate a population,
(iii) seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization, or
(iv) otherwise influence such government or international organization through intimidation or coercion; and
(i) an attack on a person’s life that could cause serious bodily injury or death;
(c) involves or causes, as the case may be-
(i) an attack on a person’s life that could cause serious bodily injury or death;
(ii) kidnapping of a person;
(iii) destruction of a government or public facility, a transportation system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place, or private property, that may endanger life human or lead to significant economic loss;
(iv) the seizure of an aircraft, ship or other means of public transportation or merchandise and diversion or use of said means of transportation for any of the purposes of paragraph (b) (iv) of this subsection;
(v) manufacturing. possession. acquisition. transport, supply or use of biological or chemical weapons, explosives or nuclear weapons, as well as research and development of biological and chemical weapons without legal authorization;
(vi) the release of dangerous substances or substances that cause fires, explosions or food, the effect of which is to endanger people’s lives;
(vii) interference or interruption of the supply of water, energy or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life ”.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the criminal elements who kidnap unarmed citizens, kill them, or release them after collecting a ransom in the amount of several million naira are terrorists.
The criminal elements that attack and shoot down military aircraft are terrorists. The criminal elements that attack police stations and seize weapons to attack innocent people are terrorists. The criminal elements that attack prisons and release the prisoners there are terrorists.
Criminal elements that destroy government property or public facilities are terrorists. But the federal government has deliberately refused to declare the bandits terrorists and prosecute them.
In May this year, the Federal Ministry of Justice announced the arrest and detention of 800 terrorism suspects and 400 sponsors of terrorism. It was also announced that the suspects would be prosecuted once the industrial action of the judicial personnel was suspended. The strike was suspended more than three months ago.
But the Federal Attorney General’s Office has not deemed it appropriate to file charges against the suspects and prosecute them before the Federal Superior Court. As part of his anti-corruption policy, the Buhari administration regularly engages in naming and shaming alleged looters of public funds from time to time.
The police parade armed robbery suspects from time to time. But the Federal Government has ruled out publishing the names of sponsors of terrorism on the grounds that it is detrimental to a fair hearing!
In utter frustration, the Northeast Governors Forum recently requested the Federation Attorney General’s order to prosecute the hundreds of terrorism suspects who languished in military custody in Maiduguri, Borno state, for years without trial.
The request was rejected without any justification. A few days ago the report of the investigation table created by the Zamfara State Government to investigate the activities of terrorists in the State was published. The report brings charges against two former governors and some emirs.
Since then, the State Government has accepted the Group’s recommendation that the suspects be prosecuted. Although terrorism is a federal crime, the Abuja authorities have not ordered the arrest and prosecution of high-ranking sponsors of terrorism in the state of Zamfara.
Prosecution of political opponents led to terrorism
In 2017, the Federal Government announced the banning of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for agitating for the establishment of the State of Biafra. The leader of the IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, is currently facing a charge of terrorism and treason in the Federal High Court.
Since then, the Federal Government has declared a full-scale war against members of the IPOB in light of the killings and destruction of property perpetrated in the southeastern region by suspected gunmen.
In 2019, the Federal Government outlawed the Movement for Islam in Nigeria (MIN) was outlawed for allowing its members to embarrass the Federal Government by demanding the release of its leader, Ibrahim Elzakzaky from the illegal custody of the State Security Service that had defied the Federal Superior Court order to release him and his wife.
In a desperate attempt to silence the radical wing of the media in the country, the Federal Government has stigmatized some journalists and accused them of terrorism.
For example, Messrs. Emperor Ogbonna and Abba Jalingo were arrested and charged with terrorism in the Federal High Court for daring to accuse the Governors of Abia and the Governors of Cross River State of corruption.
In August 2019, the State Security Service arrested and detained Mr. Omoyele Sowore for planning a peaceful demonstration against the Buhari administration. While he was detained, the SSS secretly requested an ex parte order for Sowore to remain in detention for 90 days in order to investigate his alleged terrorist activities.
Although there was no evidence to support the request, the Federal Superior Court ordered that Sowore be detained for 45 days. At the end of the investigation, the SSS confirmed that there was not a shred of evidence linking Sowore to terrorism.
Recently, the Kaduna State High Court dismissed the wrongful death charge against Sheikh Ibrahim Elzakzaky and his wife. Totally dissatisfied with the verdict, the Kaduna state government has accused them of terrorism.
And in the aftermath of the MIN’s ban, the police and army are engaged in the routine extrajudicial execution of dozens of Shiites for waging peaceful protests in Abuja and other northern states.
However, while the Federal Government is waging a full-scale war against Shiites, IPOB members and journalists, it has continued to treat so-called bandits with child gloves. For example, parents can negotiate and pay a ransom to secure the release of their abducted children while law enforcement agencies look the other way.
Embarrassed by the Federal Government’s reluctance to deal decisively with so-called bandits, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, in separate sessions, unanimously passed resolutions last weekend calling on President Buhari to declare dangerous criminal elements. as terrorists and proscribes them in accordance with the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act as amended without further delay.
Federal lawmakers also asked President Buhari to declare all known bandit leaders wanted and track them wherever they are to arrest and prosecute them. Until now, the Federal Government has ignored the resolutions. However, as the Federal Government is unwilling to declare them terrorists, we call on the media and the Nigerian people to stop referring to terrorists as bandits.