Nigerian lawmakers on Wednesday, Sept. 29 urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare armed groups operating in the country’s Northwest, known locally as ‘bandits,’ as terrorists and wage a total war against them.
After an editorial citing the groups’ atrocities against Nigerians and their similarities to other terrorist organisations in Africa, HumAngle has been describing them as terrorists for about a year.
According to a study, there are 10,000 terrorists operating in Zamfara State alone. In the entire Northwest region, there is also widespread fear of Jihadist infiltration.
The Senate resolution came after Ibrahim Gobir, a senator from Sokoto, and eight other senators co-sponsored a motion on banditry in Sokoto State, particularly in the Sokoto East Senatorial District.
Gobir, who led debate on the motion, said the Sokoto East Senatorial District had become a safe haven for terrorists fleeing the military crackdown in Zamfara, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
According to him, the killing of 21 security personnel in Dama and Gangara villages in the area on Saturday, Sept. 25 has become a serious concern.
He stated that 15 of those killed were soldiers, with three each from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Mobile Police.
Although the attack was attributed to the ‘bandits,’ analysts believe it was the first attack in the Northwest by the terror group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
“This has gone to portray the seriousness of the problem which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry,’’ the lawmaker said.
Gobir went on to say that losing such a large number of trained security personnel was worrisome because it would further deplete the country’s security force’s numerical strength.
He claimed that the majority of the bandits had relocated to Sokoto State’s Sabon Birni and Isa Local Government Areas as a result of the ongoing military operations along the Zamfara axis.
He pointed out that while the bandits were being hunted down in Zamfara, no serious measures were taken to protect Sokoto State, leaving it completely vulnerable to bandits.
The lawmaker also expressed concerns that the current military offensive against bandits was poorly coordinated because it was focused solely on Zamfara.
Uche Ekwunife (PDP-Anambra) stated that the government must fulfil its primary responsibility of safeguarding people’s lives and property.
She said President Buhari should speak to the nation about the rising trend of insecurity.
The Senate also urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant Federal Government agencies to assist victims of attacks in Sokoto State and elsewhere in the country.
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