Bandits as terrorists? — The Nation Editorial

Posted by News Express | 2 November 2021 | 532 times

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Grave insecurity breeds a multiplicity of social misfits.  They seize the moment and prey on the system.  Almost all of these killer thugs use terror tactics.  But it doesn’t mean all of them are terrorists, going by strict definition of that term.

The insurgency in the North East started with the Boko Haram Islamic sect. Those are terrorists: they plunder, they pillage and they profit.  They also add rogue prophesy to fire and capture the naive and the starry-eyed. That “prophesy” is the most dangerous of the mix – for it gives their mission an evil ideology posing as good.

But as the Nigerian security forces continue battling Boko Haram, and its terror cousins, the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), other groups of social miscreants continue to commit security breaches. They include armed and criminal herdsmen, stark bandits in the North West and North Central and “unknown gunmen,” mostly in the South East.

Let’s be clear: terrorist or bandit, the security agencies must get rid of these scums.  It’s no time for any fancy appellations.  Rather, it is time for action, to bring relief to millions of Nigerians who daily fall victim to their evil and brutal antics.

The current clamour to dub as “terrorists” each and every of these armed and killer groups is understandable.  Nevertheless, this clamour must be approached with caution.  Although the activities of all these groups cause similar social disequilibrium, their intentions and modus operandi determine their appropriate tag, if we are not to worsen the already bad crisis.

Again, to be clear: only Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other evil mutations based on faith, have been declared by the United Nations as terrorist groups, given their modus operandi. Given the dictionary and international law definitions of terrorism as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians in the pursuit of political and religious aims, there appears a difference between stark banditry and Boko Haram insurgency, IPOB.

But that doesn’t make the Nigerian situation any less disturbing.  Indeed, spikes in kidnappings and banditry just pushed the speakers of Nigeria’s 36 Houses of Assembly to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists.  While that call is understandable and should draw sympathy all round, it appears more emotional than clinical.   Banditry is not committed with the same ideological convictions as terrorism. Bandits’ motives are strictly economic. They kidnap or seize resources like gold.  To free kidnap victims, they ask for ransom.  But these marauders stop short of any ideological motives. Terrorism, on the other hand, thrives on ideological convictions: clear crimes, draped in rogue respectability of pseudo-revolutionaries.

Bandits do not fall into any revolutionary tag. They merely want money by doing what they can to intimidate those targeted.  That appears the basic argument of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi. The grave implications of humouring bandits as “terrorists” further gifts these stark criminals with a rogue ideology to attract members who otherwise, so far, may have stayed clear.  Gumi, with his bandit advocacy, grates most of the time.  But on this one, he appears logical, even if he sounds offensive.

So, instead of being worked up on a tag, we suggest our law makers must work with the executive to solve most of the economic problems in the country.  These problems, in the real sense, lure many of the youths to banditry and allied violent crimes.

So, while the security agencies move to rout terrorists and bandits, the executive and the legislature must partner on laudable policies and good governance. That way, the nursery that breeds terrorists and bandits is totally destroyed.


Source: News Express

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