A federal high court in Abuja has declared the activities of bandit groups as acts of terrorism, over one year after a HumAngle editorial stressed the need for a change in nomenclature, given the notoriety of the groups’ activities; and affirmed the paper’s stance on the matter.
In the editorial published on June 26, 2021, HumAngle wrote, “Since 2014, several communities in some of the states in the Northwest of Nigeria have witnessed aggravated plunder and killings. Nigerians and non-Nigerians have been massacred in unrestrained orgy within these locations. From Kaduna to Sokoto, Katsina to Zamfara and Kebbi, it has been a cauldron of killings.”
The terror groups have continued their rampage in 2021, increasing the scale and frequency of attacks particularly in the Northwest and Northcentral regions of Nigeria, all the while constantly referred to as ‘bandits’.
HumAngle had noted that it no longer made sense to continually categorise these groups as “bandits,” adding that in the ranking of criminal enterprises against a state, banditry features at a level comparable to robbery.
It also noted that in the matrix of criminality, terrorism is on a different level because it is an insurrection, even much more than that, it is the use of arms against the authority of the state.
Notably, the editorial stated, “We at HumAngle believe that it is a travesty to process the foregoing in the life of a nation and not know that the non-state actors are not mere bandits. They are terrorists and we choose to categorise and address them as such.”
Despite criticisms for this stance, HumAngle has since then consistently referred to activities of these groups as terrorism and its members, terrorists, in its extensive slate of in-depth reporting around states most affected.
A year after HumAngle declared its position on the issue, in supporting affidavits of the ex-parte motion which led to the order, the federal government said security reports have confirmed that the bandit groups were responsible for the killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings and related acts of criminality in the Northwest, North-central and other parts of the country.
Mohammed Abubakar, director of public prosecution (DPP) at the federal ministry of justice, who filed the motion ex-parte, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for his action, of which objective is the proscription of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other terrorist groups in the country.
Taiwo Taiwo, presiding judge, gave the order on the ex-parte motion filed by the federal government, which also alleged that the group is responsible for the growing cases of “banditry, incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment and severe deprivation of physical liberty.
The government’s motion also stated that “torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters and wanton destruction of lives and properties in Nigeria, particularly in the Northwest and Northcentral states in Nigeria are being carried out by Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other groups associated with or engaged in the same or similar activities as Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups in Nigeria.”
“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 is a threat to national security and the corporate existence of Nigeria,” the government added.
Delivering ruling on Thursday, Nov. 25, the court specifically declared the activities of the “Yan Bindiga group” and the “Yan Ta’adda group” and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the northwest and the north-central as “acts of terrorism and illegality.”
The court proscribed the activities of the group as well as other similar groups in any part of Nigeria, “either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called”.
The judge also made an order restraining “any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described.”
The court asked the federal government to publish the proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.
HumAngle, earlier on Friday, Nov. 26, published an analysis on the anatomy of a terror attack in Northwest Nigeria, reconstructing a typical terror attack based on the experiences of residents in the region.
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