I've supported 6000 people with N3.2bn, produced 500 millionaires in Kebbi – Malami
Abubakar Malami

Nigeria’s Attorney and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has said the President Muhammadu Buhari government is yet to officially designate bandits as terrorists because the government is following international best practices.

Malami who spoke on Tuesday while appearing on Channels TV breakfast programme, ‘The Morning Show,’ said his office was in the process of gazetting a court judgement that ordered the government to declare bandits as terrorists and that the process would be concluded in a matter of days.

The Buhari government had come under criticism for hastily declaring separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group in 2017, while refusing to label bandits carrying out killings and kidnappings across the North.

In the case of IPOB, Malami was able to gazette the designation of IPOB as terrorists on the same day that Justice Abdu Kafarati gave the order on September 20, 2017.

But speaking on Tuesday, Malami said the government acted swiftly in declaring IPOB and Boko Haram as terror groups because of the “threats to lives and properties they have caused in the nation.”

According to him, “Government has a responsibility to act but within the context of acting, you equally expected to operate within the confines of international best practices associated with engagement and one of such best practices is that you can only use maximum force on groups, individuals that are declared terrorists and that is where the application of the Terrorism Act comes in place.

“With that in mind, Nigeria acted, first by proscribing IPOB, taking into consideration the threats to lives and properties they have caused in the nation. Boko Haram was proscribed.”

Malami claimed that the good results arising from outlawing IPOB and Boko Haram buoyed the government to consider the proscription of bandits, and the use of military hardware against them.

“Now, we are confronted with another threat in the North-West associated with banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and in all these, these people are using weapons to attack Nigerians, kidnap them and created a situation of serious security challenge and fear in the system,” he said.

“Whatever military hardware you acquire there are limits within the context of the international convention as to how it can be used, when it can be used and against who it can be used. And that is how the idea of looking at the activities of the bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers come into being.

“Our assessment taking into consideration that they are causing a major threat to the territorial peaceful co-existence and causing a major threat to lives with weapons, the idea then came about that indeed they (bandits) have satisfied the criteria of being declared terrorists within the context of the law so that whatever military hardware at the disposal of the Federal Government can best be used against them within the context of the international convention and within the context of the law.”

On why his office has not gazetted the court order designating bandits as terrorists, Malami said, “The gazetting of a court order or judgement is a process but what matters fundamentally within the context of international convention is the judicial declaration and that has been obtained; the court has declared bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers as terrorists.

“So, with or without the gazette, what gives effect to such declaration is a judicial pronouncement but the gazette is a mere formality and it has been on and I believe within a matter of days, it will be concluded.”

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