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We’ll follow procedure before declaring bandits terrorists – Defence minister


We’ll follow procedure before declaring bandits as terrorists – Defence minister

The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), has defended Federal Government’s refusal to declare bandits as terrorists.

He said the need to follow due process was responsible for the delay.

Magashi, who stated this on Friday, in Maiduguri, while fielding questions from journalists, added that there was a procedure that needed to be followed before such a declaration could be made.

“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,” Magashi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the minister, who was in Maiduguri with the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. 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.

Reacting, PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, asked the Minister to tell Nigerians what such procedures were and why they were not followed before the Indigenous People of Biafra and other groups were proscribed by the regime.

“PANDEF would want the Minister of Defence to tell Nigerians the things that need to be put in place. The whole thing is ridiculous. The bandits are an extension of Boko Haram terrorising the lives of people in the North-West. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has always tried to evade whatever would make us call them (bandits) terrorists.

“The reason is not far-fetched. Some of the persons who have come out of the captivity of the bandits have said that the bandits are saying that they work for the government and were not settled. They are the agents of the government to rig the 2023 elections; that is why they are handling them with kid’s gloves.

“These persons have got out of control but they still have sympathy for them because they use them to promote the imaginary predominance of the North to the rest of the country.”

Robinson also termed the statement by Magashi as shameful, urging the Buhari regime to “stop this nonsense and put the interest of the country above their sectional interests”.

Also, the spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said with the way the regime was playing ‘hanky-panky’ with the issue, it only justified the claims by some that “some powerful interests are connected in it”.

He faulted the statement by the Minister, describing it as “political cover up” of national issues and a show of incompetence by the Buhari-led regime.

“First and foremost, he (Magashi) has to be asked to explain what he meant by ‘some procedure being put in place’. It is a statement too ambiguous for Nigerians to understand. This is a matter of life and death. There are lives at stake. It is surprising that we have leaders using politics to cover up their issues.”

Suleiman said the buck of the problems fell on the table of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who he described as incompetent and lacking the energy to rule the country intelligently.

On his part, the spokesperson, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Alex Ogbonnnia, said he was surprised that the country’s Defence Minister did not know that the bandits should long have been declared as terrorists, stating that they caused more harm than any other terrorist group, including IPOB.

“I don’t know why this country is living in denial. This government just loves to paint a picture that all is well when all is bad. It is unfortunate that the Defence Minister up till now has not realised that bandits are supposed to be classified as terrorists.”

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