Why Buhari is yet to designate bandits as terrorists – Presidency

The Presidency has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to designate as terrorists criminal bandits like it did the Igbo separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

In an interview with BBC Pidgin Saturday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, explained that there is a subsisting shoot on sight order against armed bandits and other violent groups by President Buhari.

In September 2017, IPOB was officially tagged an illegal and terrorist entity by a Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja, for calling for self-determination.

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in January 2018, had refused an application by members of IPOB seeking the nullification of the proscription order made against the group.

The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, was recently abducted in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria to face trial.

In July, bandits shot down a Nigerian Airforce jet, eliciting much condemnation from citizens who described their activities as acts of terrorism.

Shehu in his response said: ‘What the Buhari administration has done to the arms-wielding bandits is worse than being declared as terrorists. Do you know that there is a subsisting order by the President that any arms-wielding, AK-47 bandits should be shot on sight?’

The presidential media aide also argued that Buhari’s administration was not in any way giving bandits any form of preferential treatment as they are being killed in their hundreds.

‘I am saying yes, IPOB has been prescribed by law of the land. There is no shoot-on-sight order on IPOB. There is nothing to suggest that these bandits are treated preferentially,’ he said.

In recent months, bandits in coordinated attacks have killed and abducted hundreds of school children for ransom in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara State, forcing schools to shut down in some of the states.

Asked why bandits who have done extensive harm compared to the proscribed IPOB have not been designated as terrorists by the Buhari administration, Shehu said: ‘Yes, we hear that a lot of times. But I want to say I disagree with that position.

‘The Nigerian Airforce is busy bombing locations in the forest, the military is there on the ground exchanging fire and taking them out in hundreds, that is certainly not treating people lightly.

‘Well, I am not suggesting bombing IPOB or anybody. I want to say that the entire weaponry is today targeted at these bandits and terrorists,’ he said.

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