The Federal Government has failed to officially designate bandits as terrorists three weeks after a Federal High Court ordered the government to do so.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that since the judgment was delivered on November 26, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has yet to gazette the order as ordered by the court, thereby failing to give life to the order.
No fewer than four states in the North-West have been battling banditry. The states are Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna. The bandits have killed hundreds of innocent persons, kidnapped several others including schoolchildren, with some still in their custody, while some are nursing injuries sustained during the attacks.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on November 26 granted an ex parte application by the Federal Government for Yan Bindiga (Hausa word for gunmen) and Yan Ta’adda (Hausa word for terrorists) to be declared as terrorists.
The court asked the AGF to publish the order in two national dailies and to also publish the order in the official gazette. Malami had in a statement promised to do so. However, this has not been done three weeks after.
Saturday PUNCH reports that in the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the AGF was able to gazette the designation of IPOB as terrorists on the same day that Justice Abdu Kafarati gave the order on September 20, 2017.
The document signed by the AGF was titled, ‘Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017’ is contained in Volume 104 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.
Saturday PUNCH also observed that in the case of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the AGF gazetted the proscription order four days after the court gave the order on July 26, 2019.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, human rights lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said Malami should quickly do the needful before members of the public begin to misread his intentions.
Adegboruwa noted that without the gazette, the court order would not be as effective as it should be.
“Until there is an official gazette properly issued by the Federal Government, you cannot declare any organisation a terrorist group,” he said.
He added, “I believe the Minister of Justice would show good faith because when you compare the manner at which IPOB was declared as a terrorist group and was gazetted, it is not as cumbersome as what we are witnessing.
“He (AGF) should act so that the people would not begin to read meaning into the actions of the government. We need to treat everybody with universal and equal application of law so that we do not begin to accuse the government of having preference for one group against another.”
Meanwhile, attacks by the bandits have intensified in recent months, with not less than 849 persons killed within the past five months, several persons kidnapped and some others injured.
In Katsina State, official figures revealed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Muhammed Inuwa, showed that between July and October 2021, the state witnessed 153 attacks by bandits, which resulted in 213 deaths while 115 people were injured.
Inuwa added that 234 kidnap cases were also witnessed in the same period during which 676 victims were kidnapped.
For November, the Katsina State Police Command on November 18, 2021, lost two officers, namely ASP Yakubu Joshua, attached to 27 Police Mobile Force, Katsina and Sgt Zaharadeen Yuguda attached to Safana Division. They were killed during an encounter with bandits at Baure village, Safana Local Government Area of the state.
The state Police Commissioner, Sanusi Buba, confirmed the development.
Other attacks by bandits that were officially confirmed included those of November 10 in Batsari Local Government Area where 11 people were killed and 13 others injured; November 22 attack at Banawa village, Batagarawa Local Government Area where four people were killed and November 6 attack at Gwarjo village, Matazu Local Government Area where six people were killed.
Also, the actual amount paid as ransom for kidnapped victims’ freedom during the period was not confirmed as many families kept the information to themselves.
In Zamfara State, reports showed that no fewer than 61 persons were killed by bandits in the last two months. The figure only captured those reported in the media.
On Kaura-Namoda-Shinkafi Road, seven persons were killed; in Bargaja village in Gusau LGA, six persons were killed; in Magarya village in Zurmi LGA, three persons were killed; in Magami village in Gusau LGA, seven persons were killed; in Rijiya village in Gusau LGA, six persons were killed; in Shinkafi-Kaura-Namoda Road, three persons were killed; in Yanbuki village in Zurmi LGA, seven persons were killed; in Saka-jiki village in Kaura-Namoda LGA, 12 persons were killed and in Karakkai village in Bungudu LGA, 10 persons were killed.
It was however gathered that 32 bandits were killed by the villagers within the past 60 days.
Similarly, seven soldiers, nine policemen and two members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were killed.
A district head of Magarya village in Zurmi LGA, Alhaji Muazu, died in captivity and the district head of Adabka, Alhaji Nafiu Shehu, was kidnapped and rescued after the payment of N3.5m ransom. The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, was also kidnapped on Kaduna-Abuja highway.
In Sokoto State, available record indicated that over 191 residents in the eastern flank of the state, comprising seven local government areas; Gada, Goronyo, Gwadabawa, Illela, Isa, Sabon Birni and Tangaza, have been killed within the last two months.
Again, more than 34 persons were kidnapped and whisked to unknown destinations by the bandits.
Confirmed reports indicated that two villages; Gangara and Makwaruwa, in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of the state were currently under the leadership of bandits/terrorists belonging to the dreaded Bello Turji faction.
A former chairman of the local government, Idris Gobir, told one of our correspondents, “While Dan Bakkwalo reigns supreme in Gangara village, Boka Tamiske holds sway over Makwaruwa village as new district heads.”
At least, 59 communities had paid levies and ransom to terrorists for them (villagers) to move freely. Our correspondent gathered that Gadawa village has paid N500,000; Tudunwada paid N1m and Nasarawa villagers paid the sum of N600,000.
Gatawa district, comprising about 85 villages, have paid close to N25m while Zango, a small village, was levied N2m. For the people of Gangara to return to their village in peace, they had to cough out N1.5m after acceding to three other conditions.
In some of the attacks, on October 17, 2021, about 42 bodies were deposited at Goronyo General Hospital, while a source put the number of security personnel on a joint patrol team killed at Burkusuma camp in Sabon Birni at 29.
Suspected bandits also attacked Gangara and Gatawa towns, all in Sabon Birni Local Government Area, where 20 persons were kidnapped and 27 persons killed.
In another attack, 52 persons lost their lives and three persons kidnapped during three different attacks on villages in Ilella, Goronyo and Sabon Birni local government areas within 72 hours.
About 23 lives were lost at Gidan Bawa village in Isa Local Government Area of the state, on December 6, under the watchful eyes of the terrorists, who opened fire on a vehicle conveying passengers on their way to the southern part of the country.
Meanwhile, in Kaduna State, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in his third quarter security report, said bandits killed 343 and abducted 830 persons as well as injured 210 persons, including women and minors in the state within the third quarter alone.
He added that 12,860 cattle were rustled and 220 bandits killed between January and September.
The breakdown of the killings, according to the commissioner, indicated that 193 people out of the total number killed were from the Southern Kaduna Senatorial District, saying that the figures were largely made up of victims of the violent attacks and reprisals in Zango-Kataf, Kaura and Kauri local government areas.
He said the Kaduna Central Senatorial District recorded 130 deaths representing 38 per cent with 125 of the deaths recorded in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Kajuru LGAs of the state.