While the government could be said to have granted what many people have been longing for, others thought the government has just merely succumbed to pressure from a section of the population by securing the declaration of bandits as terrorists.
There is no doubt that the rampaging atrocities perpetrated by bandits on millions of people have reached an unprecedented level of horror in the region. However, the question is whether the declaration could be a panacea to banditry in the country.
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There is a question regarding definition and identity of the group. According to the government, bandits have been identified as “ Yan bindiga”, “Yan ta’adda”, or bandits. However, this could not be enough to identify the number of people carrying guns and other sophisticated weapons in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna forests and many others.
Perhaps another name for bandits is “Fulani herdsman” who could easily be identified as any person from the tribe or resembling them carrying cutlass, stick, gun or nothing but with or without a herd of cow roaming the forests.
The biggest danger here is identifying the criminal Fulani herdsman who terrorise the innocent Nigerian from the one who is struggling to eke a living in the forest.
This can be confusing and difficult to determine particularly in the southern part of the country where even prior to this, Fulani herdsmen were generally seen as criminals and security threats.
Hence, while the declaration of bandits as terrorists shows the government’s commitment to ending the menace and could give it the opportunity to deal with the group with proportional force, it could also be logical to argue that mere declaration of bandits as terrorists would not be a panacea to banditry as they have been earlier dealt with the same weapons and magnitude of force just like the terrorists but with less than satisfactory result.
Therefore, unless government renews its commitment, charge the security agencies and personnel, the desired result may not be realised anytime soon.
Sule Isyaku Ado wrote this from Kano firstname.lastname@example.org