Bandits or terrorists, FG needs to secure Nigeria — New Telegraph Editorial

Posted by News Express | 11 November 2021 | 274 times

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•Bandit leaders with negotiators inside their forest hideout

 

Given the continued loss of lives and socioeconomic dislocation unleashed on Nigeria by rising insecurity, different stakeholders have reacted to the avoidable man-made menace. Some of the stakeholders, including state governors and Speakers of the 36 states of the federation, have urged the Federal Government to declare the bandits as terrorists.

There is also an opposing view that the Federal Government should not declare the bandits as terrorists so as not to attract the wrath and invasion of foreign collaborators of the bandits operating in Nigeria. This followed the shooting down of a Nigerian Air Force plane and a more recent one on a set of coaches on the Abuja-Kaduna corridor of the standard rail gauge line. New Telegraph commends all stakeholders, who despite their different social-political and religious backgrounds have come forward to ask for the classification of bandits as terrorists.

This new song is belated and is unlikely to aid the country to recover the colossal human, material and financial losses suffered dating back to the start, in 2002, of terrorism in the North-East geo-political zone, from where it spread to other parts of the nation. However, this new hymn by a collectively of people cutting across different backgrounds signals a paradigm shift that more Nigerians have shrugged off the garb of politics and sentiment, to now wake up to the reality that insecurity is man-made, and must be solved by man, putting on, his thinking cap, to find an answer to the long-raging fire. To be further taken seriously that there is now a national resolve to make insecurity history, is to do a proper classification of the bandits as terrorists.

The difference between the bandits and terrorists, if any, is in their nomenclature. The bandits and terrorists share the same attributes and exhibit equally the same nuances. They inflict bodily harm, injury or death on their victims amidst other socio-economic dislocations such as rape, captivity, demand for ransom and assault.

The long reluctance by the Executive Branch of government to classify the bandits as terrorists has helped give the impression that the fight against insecurity is rather treated as an addendum instead of a priority subject. The nation is subjected to the continued heavy bombardment of insecurity due to procrastination of the Federal Government to properly classify bandits as terrorists and neutralize them.

We note, with displeasure, that the unrestricted operations of the bandits has helped compromise the effectiveness and efficiency of the different sectors of the country’s national life. This, no doubt, helps institutionalise the socio-economic retrogression of Nigeria. The willingness to declare the bandits as terrorists will likely earn Nigeria the sympathy and support of some members of the international community and also help the Federal Government to widen and deepen its investigations regarding intelligence-gathering to be able combat the army of terrorists.

But what kind of training and orientation has been given the security operatives? Is it to neutralize the bandits as they are the same as terrorists or to give them a mere slap-on-the-wrist treatment? Do the Federal Government and its security agencies feign ignorance of the statement in the public space that the declaration of bandits as terrorists would likely precipitate the invasion of Nigeria by their foreign collaborators? Why is it difficult for the security agencies to engage and grill the purveyors of such information to know more about the bandits and their supporters?

The ability to do just that will further illustrate the seriousness of Nigeria to deal decisively with insecurity. In order to make sustainable progress in the campaign against insecurity, the bandits and their sponsors should be subjected to diligent prosecution. We have observed with regret, the indifference exhibited by the Federal Government over the discharge of such vital responsibility relevant to the uprooting of insecurity.

Equally disgusting is the haste with which terrorists are pronounced as repentant and re-integrated into the society. Why should the terrorists be excused from being subjected to justice after inflicting bodily harm, injury or death or any other form of socio-economic dislocation on their victims? Quick re-integration into the society without adequate sanctions, behavioural audit and attitudinal charge will likely compound matters for the populace as the terrorists may become more emboldened to unleash additional terror on them. The recurring claims in security quarters that some bandits or terrorists have surrendered to the superior firepower of the security agencies constitute a distraction, to say the least. The surrender of the bandits or terrorists should result in the whittling down of the fortress of such criminally-minded elements.

We urge the Federal Government to review its strategies regarding the fight against insecurity with a view to ensuring that the bandits are no longer given a soft landing, as is currently perceived to be so. This will be properly demonstrated through the classification of bandits as terrorists to be followed up with the unmasking and diligent prosecution of bandits or terrorists and their sponsors.

The rush to pronounce terrorists as repentant and going ahead to re-integrate them into the society should be discarded, as it may always spell doom for the nation. Security operatives should be re-oriented to purge themselves of sentiments in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities.


Source: News Express

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