Proscription of bandit groups: Governor Ortom has made another right call

  It was on Friday, November 26, 2021, that the Federal High Court in Abuja declared the activities of some groups of bandits as acts of ter...


 

It was on Friday, November 26, 2021, that the Federal High Court in Abuja declared the activities of some groups of bandits as acts of terrorism. The judge, Taiwo Taiwo, in his judgement mentioned two bandit groups, Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda whose activities he said had constituted acts of terrorism. He however, added that other similar groups of persons or individuals stood proscribed and should be regarded as a terror groups.

It is cheering to note that it was the Federal Government who had approached the court with a prayer to proscribe the bandit groups after President Muhammadu Buhari had approved of the move. President Buhari had said: “The activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other similar groups constitute acts of terrorism that can lead to a breakdown of public order and safety and a threat to national security and the corporate existence of Nigeria.”

Many Nigerians who have reacted to the proscription have commended the Federal Government for taking the bold step even as it almost took it forever to respond to the calls by Nigerians to declare the groups as terrorists organisations.

The Northern Youths Council of Nigeria which described the proscription by the court as “a better late than never” decision, called for full military operation in North Western and North Central parts of the country to reduce their activities. It also added that “we urge our Armed Forces and other sister security agencies, to arrest and prosecute anybody found to be giving the terrorists support be it materially, morally or otherwise no matter how highly or lowly placed.”

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has also commended the Federal Government for the proscription of bandits as terrorists but thinks there are other groups that would have been declared as terrorists groups too.

Recall that Governor Ortom is one of the leading voices who had been vocal in persistently calling for the declaration of bandits as terrorists.

In July 2020, speaking through his formers Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, the Governor asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare herdsmen killing innocent people in Benue communities as terrorists. He said: “only a terrorist group would deliberately choose to violate the legislation as Fulani herdsmen have done since the law was enacted in 2017” The governor was referring to the law banning open grazing and encouraging ranching in Benue state. This is just one of the few instances he made those calls. But at that time, he was criticized even by the same Federal Government who today has approved the proscription of bandits as terrorists.

Governor Ortom on Friday, December 3, 2021 while commending the Federal Government for proscribing bandits as terrorists, added that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN and Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM be included in the proscription list because their members are mostly parts of bandit groups.

He said: “I want to commend the Federal Government for being bold to designate bandits as terrorists. But I call on the government to also include Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN and Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM in the category of terrorists because those bandits are their members.”

Governor Ortom’s call is not out of place going by the judgement and by reason.

By the judgement, any similar group whose activities had constituted acts of terrorism should be regarded as terrorists. So, those groups Governor Ortom has mentioned have in many instances claimed responsibility for attacks and killings in several parts of the country and so deserve to be proscribed as terrorists. They have claimed attacks in Benue and Plateau States respectively. And by reasoning, Governor Ortom is addressing the root cause and not playing to the gallery because if members of bandits are members of those groups, it suggests well enough that the failure to proscribe Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN and Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM as terror groups is as good as pruning the tree with a believe that it will wither.

So the governor was right; these groups should not be allowed to continue their operations especially as they often claim responsibility for attacks on harmless and armless Nigerians. That their members are in the ranks of the two proscribed bandit groups further amplifies the need for them to be proscribed, failure to do so will then mean that the Federal Government is not getting it right and the war against terrorists and terrorism may be far from over.

Benjamin Ngutsav writes from Agbeede, Konshisha LGA, Benue State.

[email protected]

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