The National Assembly (NASS) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits in the country as terrorists and wage total war against them.
According to the Senate, the known leaders of the notorious gunmen should be declared wanted and tracked to completely curb their actions.
The motion was sponsored titled “Banditry In Sokoto State particularly Sokoto East Senatorial District” sponsored by Senator Gobir Ibrahim Abdullahi (APC-Sokoto East) and eight other senators.
A similar motion was presented in the House of Representatives by the chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson.
The Bill titled “Declaration of Bandits and their Sponsors as Terrorists” argued that making such an order against the bandits and their sponsors will aide their prosecution
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Gobir lamented that Sokoto East Senatorial District has now become a safe haven for bandits due to the current crackdown taking place in Zamfara State.
He said that nothing less than about 600 innocent citizens including trained security personnel across all the local government in Sokoto East have been killed so far adding that government has to do something urgent to protect the people in the area.
“Losing a such number of trained security personnel will further deplete the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country; thereby jeopardizing the security architecture of the country.”
The lawmaker also noted that the present military onslaught on the bandits is not well co-ordinates as he observed that it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara State instead of all the front line states ravaged by banditry, i.e. Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna states.
Supporting the Senate stance, Benson said; “The Senate on Wednesday, 29th September, 2021 adopted a motion asking President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits ravaging the northern part of the country terrorists and wage a total war on them.
“They also asked that the president declare all known leaders of bandits wanted and arrest them wherever they were found for speedy prosecution. Such declaration to be done through a Proscription Order can be done pursuant to section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (As Amended).
“I will like to echo the same sentiment and ask honourable colleagues to join the Senate in urging Mr President to declare bandits and their sponsors as terrorists. This will underline the determination of Government to combat the wave of criminality and murders conducted by bandits all over the country.
“The declaration of bandits as terrorists can be done through a proscription order. That will serve as added impetus for our brave security personnel to redouble their efforts at dealing with this menace. Such declaration when given the force of law, will renew the vigour and resolve of our gallant security personnel in dealing with the menace of banditry as the mode of operations and rules of engagement will be scaled up accordingly.
“Such an Order will officially bring the activities of bandits and their sponsors within the purview of the Terrorism Prevention Act and any persons associated with such groups can then be legally prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the Act.
“Declaration of all Bandits as Terrorist may also encourage other countries to do same and help create a global consensus around dealing with transnational factors that feeds the domestic activities of such proscribed organisations and individuals.
“As previously observed in this House, no one action can be a silver bullet to solving our insecurity in Nigeria. But a collection of many effective actions and strategies can bring safety. It is in this spirit that I speak today.
“Insecurity in Nigeria requires an all-of-government approach. Hence, I also urge the President to implement the recommendations of the National Security Summit, which took place in June this year and was officially delivered to Mr President in July.
“All hands have to be on deck to be able to win this battle against insecurity in all its manifestations.”
Reacting to the motion, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila asked if there was any opposition to the motion, the lawmakers chorused, “No!”