Why FG should promptly Gazette court’s order on bandits, by lawyers
Lawyers have asked the Federal Government to promptly Gazette the court’s order which outlawed activities of bandit groups across the country. To the men of the wig and gown, this will be a major step at effectively checkmating the nefarious activities of these criminals who takes delight in killing and maiming innocent citizens. AKEEM NAFIU reports
Some senior lawyers have hailed the recent court’s pronouncement which outlawed activities of bandit groups across the country, saying it is a good omen for the polity.
The lawyers said the pronouncement is a bold response to the yearnings and aspirations of many Nigerians, particularly members of the National Assembly, whose persistent call on President Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists has not been heeded.
Prior to the court’s pronouncement, there have been several calls on the president to declare bandits as terrorists in view of the negative impacts of their activities on the country.
Both Chambers of the National Assembly were also not left out in asking President Buhari to place terrorists tag on bandits and wage a total war on them.
In their resolutions, the lawmakers asked Buhari to order the military to eliminate the bandits and bomb their hideouts, while also declare all known leadership of bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
It would be recalled that Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja had recently declared that activities of bandits and other similar groups, by whatever names they are called, in any part of the country, amount to acts of terrorism and subsequently declared them terrorists.
The judge made the declaration in his ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the Federal Government through the Director of Public Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar, seeking to outlaw activities of Yan Bindiga, Yan Ta’adda and other groups of bandits in the country. In an affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion, the Federal Government prayed the court to outlaw the activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups, as well as other terrorist groups in the country.
These groups were said to be responsible for killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings, and other criminal acts in the North-East, North-Central and other parts of the country. It alleged that the Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups, as well as other similar groups, were responsible for the deaths of soldiers, policemen and other security operatives across the country.
“The groups are to be blamed for banditry, incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters, and wanton destruction of lives and property.
“Commercial, educational and farming activities in the North- West and North-Central have been disrupted as a result of the groups’ activities.
The activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups, as well as other similar groups, constitute acts of terrorism that can lead to a breakdown of public order and safety, as well as a threat to Nigeria’s national security and corporate existence,” FG stated in the affidavit.
In his ruling on the ex-parte motion, Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared the activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups, as well as other similar groups, in any part of the country, particularly in the North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones as acts of terrorism and illegality.
The judge held: “Similar groups, either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called, in any part of Nigeria, particularly in the North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones are terrorists and banned.
“The proscription order is extended to all other groups in the country, regardless of their names, whose activities and goals are similar to those of the Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups.
“Terror activities include, but not limited to banditry, kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters and wanton destruction of lives and property in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government must publish the proscription order in the official Gazette and two national dailies in the country”.
Reacting to the court’s ruling, the Federal Government speaking through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), promised to abide by the judge’s directive mandating it to officially Gazette the order.
The AGF while noting that the court’s declaration is an indication of Buhari’s administration desire to do things legally, said the Federal Government is now emboldened to crush all acts of banditry in the country.
Malami said: “The development is a pointer to the commitment of the Federal Government to adhere to international standards in respecting the rules of engagement in the fight against terrorism, separatist organisations, insurgency and banditry in the country.
“By this declaration, the Federal Government of Nigeria has taken a bold step to deal ruthlessly with all terrorists groups and their sponsors in efforts to bring lasting solution to the myriad of security challenges in the country.
The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in collaboration with relevant government agencies, including security operatives are working assiduously to do the needful to take full advantage of this declaration. The government will gazette, publish the proscription order”.
Sequel to the court’s order which outlawed activities of bandit groups in the country, some senior lawyers are pushing for an immediate action by Federal Government at proscribing the terror groups.
The lawyers while baring their minds on the issue at the weekend said government should implement the court’s order the same way it acted in proscribing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Speaking on the issue, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, commended the court’s decision, saying it’s a step in the right direction.
Ahamba said: “The court’s decision is right. Those criminals are worse than terrorists. These bandits kill and maim innocent citi- zens when they go contrary to what they want.
So, I am very happy that finally court has declared bandits as terrorists. I hope the Federal Government will now treat them accordingly. The court’s order that the declaration should be Gazetted officially and published in two national dailies should be promptly complied with by government.
“Government should know that court’s pronouncements are meant to be obeyed. When a court makes an order and you disagree with it, you should go on appeal.
But, by disobeying the court’s order, the entire country is being derided. I hope that the Federal Government will take steps to implement the court’s order”.
Speaking on the issue, a Bencher and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, hailed the court’s pronouncement saying Federal Government should implement it with utmost dispatch. “I am in full support of the court’s position and I asked Federal Government to ensure its prompt implementation.
The truth of the matter is that only terrorists will take up arms and be attacking communities, government facilities, kidnapping and killing people without provocation just to press home their demand. No other name”, Adedipe said.
In his submission, a rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, lauded Justice Taiwo’s courage at handling down the order.
He said: “That was quite a bold and commendable judgement. All those groups are terrorist groups. Boko haram is not just one of them, but the ‘numero uno’, being acclaimed as the third deadliest terrorist group in the world.
The Federal Government should implement the judgement immediately, the same way it did with that of IPOB, even before the ink had dried on the judgement sheet. Bandits are terrorists. Pure and simple.
It’s for Buhari to make a proclamation immediately, declaring all bandits as terrorists, if this government is really serious about routing out insecurity.
“When the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was proscribed by presidential proclamation, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), armed with the presidential proclamation, approached Justice Abdul- Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/871/2017 ( AGF V IPOB).
“The court, upon an ex-parte application, declared that activities of IPOB amount to acts of terrorism and illegality. It also immediately proscribed IPOB in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-East and South-South.
“Based on this court order, the Federal Ministry of Justice published the Terrorism ( Prevention) ( Proscription Order) Notice 2017 in Volume 104 of the official Gazette of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, giving effect to the prescription by the court.
An application by IPOB challenging the proscription was also dismissed by the same judge. So, we already have a clear prec
edent. “For the avoidance of doubt, IPOB was never found killing, maiming, raping and terrorizing people, as bandits have been doing.
Yet, the Buhari government immediately proscribed it with automatic alacrity, while tolerating, if not outrightly embracing bandits. It is this bare-faced duplicity and incongruity that have always baffled Nigerians”.
Another silk, Mr. Hakeem Olatunde Afolabi, also declared his support for the court’s pronouncement saying it is a welcome development. “On the issue that bandits be declared as terrorists, I think the court has done justice to the matter and I am in full support of the pronouncement. It is long overdue.
The people Buhari’s government called bandits are terrorists as they continued to inflict fears and terror on Nigerian people. “Tagging these people as terrorists will make the international community prepared to render assistance in all ramifications to end their activities.
Being tagged as terrorists will also make them persons of interest to the whole world. The consequence of this is that these people will no longer enjoy the protection of their sponsors as the whole world will come down hard on them and their sponsors”, Afolabi said.
Dr. Fassy Yusuf opined that banditry in the North requires a desperate solution and this starts by tagging the bandits as terrorists. He said: “The court’s pronouncement is a good omen for the polity and I am hoping for its prompt implementation by the Federal Government.
I had quite a long time ago drew government’s attention to the fact that the so-called bandits operating in the Northern part of the country have gone beyond banditry.
Maiming and killing of people as well as disturbing the peace and tranquility of states by these bandits called for a desperate solution. “I believed that once these bandits are declared terrorists, the onslaught on them will be more decisive.
There will be operation no mercy because terrorists deserve no mercy. They cannot be treated like ordinary criminals or common criminals. They indeed deserve the worst of treatment. “I sincerely hope that the Gazetting of the court’s order will give impetus to the war against insurgency and terrorism in the North.
Besides, it will also motivate our armed forces and other para-military agencies to perform optimally. Terrorism has dealt a great blow to this country and it must be tamed with quick rapidity”. A senior lawyer, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, said the court’s declaration is a step that was long overdue.
“The declaration by the court declaring bandits as terrorists is a highly commendable one but also a step that was long overdue.Thank God that we still have judges who are fearless and firm in the discharge of their judicial duties.
Everybody in this country knew that there was no justification for not declaring them terrorists before now whereas the president was comfortable to so declare IPOB and others. This is sheer hypocrisy and discrimination of the highest order. “The presidency has been taught the right thing at last.
It is regrettable the way the president act in things like this. Many people criticize the president for treating herders with kid gloves because he himself is a Fulani like them but it is not so.
This is because his actions of trying to shield them has not helped them at all but worsen the situation for them in that it creates distrust of them in the people. Too bad.
“Without mincing words, the use of the word, bandit to describe terrorists is mere semantics. This is because by the activities of these minions, which include but not in anyway limited to arson, cattle rustling, looting, killing, maiming, kidnapping and so on, they are nothing but veritable terrorists.
Although, the change in nomenclature cannot of itself do magic, the government should work towards eliminating terrorism and ensuring the safety of lives and property”, Akingbolu said.
Mr. Gabriel Uduafi also urged the Federal Government to do the needful over the court’s order. He said: “Banditry has taken a wider dimension, almost every part of the country is now involved.
Anyone who kill and maim innocent citizens should not be called a bandit, but a terrorist and should be treated as one. So, I expect government to do the needful over the court’s pronouncement”.