As the President Muhammadu Buhari led government continue to refuse to declare bandits as terrorists, it has now even said these criminals are ‘not bandits at all’.
This was said by the Presidency in response to an article published by UK based news magazine, The Economist, wherein the terrible state of security under President Buhari was well described.
The article published on Saturday also described the President Buhari led government as inept and high-handed, adding that he had also failed to tackle corruption.
The 178-year-old magazine said this in an editorial titled, ‘The Crime Scene at the Heart of Africa,’ which was published in its October 23, 2021, issue.
Note that this is coming at a time when pressure on the Buhari led government to declare bandits as terrorists is at its highest.
What Presidency Said About Bandits
In the statement which was released by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the Presidency, even though has been reluctant to declare bandits as terrorists, admitted that “they (bandits) are essentially no different to Boko Haram” in some areas.
“But this too the Economist inaccurately described: “bandits” who have the resources and technology to shoot down a military fighter jet are not bandits at all – but rather highly organised crime syndicates with huge resources and weaponry. Yet they are essentially no different to Boko Haram in this regard who are now cornered,” Mr Shehu wrote in his response
Mr Shehu also acknowledged the various security challenges facing the country but said President Buhari was addressing them.
“The Economist is correct: Nigeria faces multiple threats. They confluence now not because of this government; but on the contrary, it is this government which is addressing them concurrently, and simultaneously – when no other prior administration sought to adequately address even a single one,” the spokesperson wrote.
Read the full statement by Mr. Shehu below:
ECONOMIST’S FLAWED, ANTI-NIGERIA COVER: PRESIDENT BUHARI IS STRENGTHENING AFRICA’S DEMOCRACY
*Resilience and fortitude of patriotic Nigerians will see the nation through the difficult times
The Economist is correct: Nigeria faces four key threats to the stability and prosperity of the nation – namely: ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorism in the North-East; kidnapping and crime in the North-West; herder-farmer disputes in the central belt; and the delusions of IPOB terrorists in the South-East.
The Economist is also accurate to state that they have come to a head under President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, (APC) administration. Yet they do so, because for so long, under previous administrations, whether military or democratic, tough decisions have been ducked, and challenges never fully met – with the effect of abetting these dangers and allowing them all to fester and grow.
Today, all four threats are being fought concurrently and it is only this President’s administration which has finally had the will and determination to confront them.
The Buhari administration has sought to push back terrorism which has been a threat for more than two decades since the first emergence of Boko Haram.
It is only the Buhari administration that has now sought to intervene against the kidnapping and banditry that has been a simmering threat for far longer.
It is only this President’s government which has taken on IPOB, the violent terrorist group which bombs police stations and offices of security agencies, while also threatening those who break their Monday-sit-ins whilst claiming the mantle of forebears who half a century ago fought a civil war. And it is only the Buhari leadership which has sought – ever, in over one hundred years – to identify the root causes of the herder-farmer clashes and find durable solutions.
The forms may have altered, and the threats posed by each may have waxed and waned, but what has been constant is that administration after administration since independence – whether military or democratic – none sought to fully address these threats to Nigeria as President Buhari’s government does now.
Today, the military is engaged in almost all the states of Nigeria because the President has insisted upon addressing these decade-after-decade-long issues during his time in office.
In the North, Boko Haram members – many of whom now fight under the breakaway banner of Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) – have been pushed back. At the start of the President’s tenure, Boko Haram was launching attacks across the majority of the country – including in southern states and Lagos.
Today they are cornered and confined along with their ISWAP compatriots in our country’s outermost fringes of the border, unable to spread further.
In the South-East, IPOB – which the Economist rightly describes as “delusional” – the arrest and present trial of the terrorist leader of the group is the beginning of its demise.
The President’s administration is redoubling efforts to have IPOB rightfully designated as a terrorist group by our allies outside of Nigeria – an act which will collapse their ability to transact gains from crime and extortion in foreign currencies.
It is important to remind the Economist and the global media that this group’s aggression and widespread presence on social media does not reflect their public support, for which they have none: all elected governors, all elected politicians and all elected state assemblies in the South-East – which IPOB claim to be part of their fantasy kingdom – reject them completely.
The only government of Nigeria which has ever sought a solution to the centuries-old herder-farmer disputes of the central belt is President Buhari’s administration. The Federal ranches programme, launched shortly after the President’s re-election is the first of its kind – and it is working: during the last 12 months clashes have significantly reduced.
The government now calls on State governors to have the imagination to join forces with the Federal administration and expand this programme by making available state lands for those interested, now that its effectiveness has been demonstrated.
The Economist opinionated and reported on banditry and kidnapping in the North-West. While this has been simmering for generations, it is the newest of the organized threats Nigeria faces to her stability.
But this too the Economist inaccurately described: “bandits” who have the resources and technology to shoot down a military fighter jet are not bandits at all – but rather highly organised crime syndicates with huge resources and weaponry.
Yet they are essentially no different to Boko Haram in this regard who are now cornered. It will take time, but the President is unwavering in his determination to collapse this challenge to public order.
The Economist is correct: Nigeria faces multiple threats. They confluence now not because of this government; but on the contrary, it is this government which is addressing them concurrently, and simultaneously – when no other prior administration sought to adequately address even a single one.
That is the difference between what has gone before and what we have now. It is why the President and his party were re-elected with’ an increased majority in national elections two years ago.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media and Publicity)
October 24, 2021
Pressure Mount On FG To Declare Bandits As Terrorists
The past few days has seen many Nigerians including the Nigerian Senate and Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai ask President Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists.
Most recently, over the weekend, the 36 House of Assembly speakers called on President Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists and enemies of the nation. This was their resolution at a Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Katsina State yesterday.
The call of the Conference of Speakers is coming a day after Katsina Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, reiterated the earlier call of his Kaduna counterpart, Nasir el-Rufai and the National Assembly for the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the nation’s security and declare bandits as terrorists.
Chairman of the Conference, who is also Bauchi State Speaker, Abubakar Suleiman, while making the call at the end of their third yearly meeting, said it was part of their five-point communiqué at the end of their eight-hour deliberations.
He said: “We call on President Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists and enemies of the state. The conference has observed all the activities carried out by the bandits as containing the same mode of operations used by terrorists.
“The Conference also decried the state of insecurity in the country and resolved to work out legislative frameworks, to complement the efforts of the Federal Government to address the security challenges in the country.
“In addition, the Conference also resolved to make appropriate laws to address the fundamental issues that breed insecurity in the land, as well as create employment for the youths and curb the menace of insecurity in the country.”
The Speakers’ Conference further commended governors who gave their assents to the fund management bills passed by their respective state Assemblies and called on those yet to do so to expedite action on the bill for effective implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures and judiciary.
The host governor, Masari, had on Saturday added his voice to the growing call for bandits to be labelled terrorists. Katsina is one of the epicentres in the nation’s Northwest where banditry and other criminal activities reign supreme, leaving many citizens traumatised.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Masari said that the security agencies were doing their best at tackling the state of insecurity nationwide but the Federal Government ought to adopt more measures towards resolving the problem.
The governor identified the 1975 Local Government Reforms as a fundamental factor engendering current security issues in the nation and also urged participants at the conference to adopt certain measures being implemented by Katsina to check the state of insecurity.
“The Katsina State government decided to review the system and bring on board the traditional institutions and other relevant stakeholders to participate directly in security decisions and management.
“We reviewed the state local government law and we have created three-tier security committees across the 34 Local Government areas, to provide security agencies with useful information and assist ineffective policing and ensure arrest of offenders and hand them over to the appropriate authorities.
“We also adopted the Security Containment Order, which is another milestone achievement recorded in the security subsector as well as community conflict resolution centres across the state for civil and non-criminal cases, to reduce congestion in the courts.”