The Federal Government has formally declared bandit groups operating in the country as terrorists.
The declaration titled ‘Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice, 2021 is contained in Volume 108 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.
It read in part, “Notice is hereby given that by the Order of the Federal High Court Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1370/2021 dated 25th November 2021 as per the schedule to this Notice, the Activities of Yan Bindiga Group, Yan Ta’adda Group and other similar groups in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, especially in the North West and North-Central Regions of Nigeria and are proscribed, pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
“Consequently the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the groups referred to in paragraph 1 of this Notice will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 and liable to prosecution.”
News of the move comes more than a month after the Federal High Court in Abuja declared bandits as terrorists following an ex parte motion the Federal Government filed before it through the Ministry of Justice.
The government had approached the court to declare bandits as terrorists in October after repeated calls from across Nigeria for them to be so designated to enable security operatives to better combat them.
Governors, the National Assembly, state legislators, lawyers and several groups were among those who made calls for bandits to be declared as terrorists.
The Federal Government in its ex parte motion told the Federal High Court that that intelligence reports showed that bandit groups masterminded several killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings, and related acts of criminality in the northeast, north-central, and other parts of the country.
It added that the groups engaged in incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities, particularly in the Northwest and Northcentral states in Nigeria.
Ruling on the motion in November, Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared bandits as terrorists. He specifically held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups, constitute acts of terrorism.
Justice Taiwo further ordered the FG to publish the proscription order in the official gazette as well as in two national dailies.