The House of Representatives, on Thursday, asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to designate bandits, who have dominated the North-West and parts of the North-Central geopolitical zones, and their sponsors as terrorists.
The Senate had made the demand earlier on Wednesday.
Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, at the plenary on Thursday, moved a motion of urgent public importance to urge the chamber to back the Senate.
It was titled, ‘Declaration of Bandits and their Sponsors as Terrorists.’
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had asked for those who were against the motion but the lawmakers chorused, “No!”
The motion was unanimously adopted through voice vote.
Moving the motion, Benson said, “The Senate, on Wednesday, 29th September, 2021, adopted a motion asking President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits ravaging the northern part of the country terrorists and wage a total war on them. They also asked that the president declare all known leaders of bandits wanted and arrest them wherever they were found for speedy prosecution. Such declaration to be done through a Proscription Order can be done pursuant to Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (As Amended).
“I will like to echo the same sentiment and ask honourable colleagues to join the Senate in urging Mr President to declare bandits and their sponsors as terrorists. This will underline the determination of government to combat the wave of criminality and murders conducted by bandits all over the country.
“The declaration of bandits as terrorists can be done through a proscription order. That will serve as added impetus for our brave security personnel to redouble their efforts at dealing with this menace. Such declaration when given the force of law, will renew the vigour and resolve of our gallant security personnel in dealing with the menace of banditry as the mode of operations and rules of engagement will be scaled up accordingly.”
Benson listed more benefits of declaring the bandits terrorists, noting that such an order will officially bring the activities of bandits and their sponsors within the purview of the Terrorism Prevention Act, while any persons associated with such groups can then be legally prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the Act.
He said, “Declaration of all bandits as terrorist may also encourage other countries to do same and help create a global consensus around dealing with transnational factors that feeds the domestic activities of such proscribed organisations and individuals.
“As previously observed in this House, no one action can be a silver bullet to solving our insecurity in Nigeria. But a collection of many effective actions and strategies can bring safety. It is in this spirit that I speak today.
“Insecurity in Nigeria requires an all-of-government approach. Hence, I also urge the President to implement the recommendations of the National Security Summit, which took place in June this year and was officially delivered to Mr President in July. All hands have to be on deck to be able to win this battle against insecurity in all its manifestations.”