Treating bandits in the language they understand

Treating bandits in the language they understand

by Jonathan Nda-Isaiah

Recently, the military launched a massive onslaught against bandits in Zamfara. Phone services were shut down in the state among other measures taken by the governors of Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, and Niger states.

I heard so far the military is treating the bandits in the language that they understand. I have never doubted the ability and capacity of the military to end banditry or terrorism. Sabotage and sometimes lack of motivation are some of the reasons for the lingering war. We have arguably one of the best ground troops in the world and sometimes I wonder why some untrained ragtag will be hard for our military to defeat.

We have seen collaborations between the air force and the army recently which is commendable.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement when I read reports that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to immediately reverse the unjustified suspension of internet and telecommunication networks in Zamfara State and 13 local government areas of Katsina State”.

SERAP in an open letter dated September 11, 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “The suspension of the internet and telecommunication networks in Zamfara and Katsina states, without any legal justification, is inconsistent with the principles of necessity and proportionality. A suspension is a form of collective punishment of Nigerians resident in these states.”

Is SERAP for real? Is SERAP talking about human rights when bandits are making life a living hell for Nigerians in the north-west and north-central. Who is SERAP working for?

I recall that a lecturer at the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Dr. Murtala A. Rufa’I, has said that there are 120 gangs of bandits operating in six northern states. He said each of these groups, operating in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger, has in its possession more than 500 AK 47 rifles.

In a paper, titled, “I am a Bandit: A Decade of Research in Zamfara Bandit’s Den”, he also said over 12,000 persons have lost their lives to banditry in Zamfara state since 2011.

According to him, about 250,000 livestock had been rustled, 120 villages’ destroyed and over 50,000 villagers were displaced by bandits in the period under review.

The lecturer disclosed these at a public lecture organised by Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, as part of its seminar series on banditry in the north-west.

Pointedly, Nigerians have severally pilloried the federal government and the military for treating the bandits with kid gloves and now the military is taking extreme measures to route out the bandits, and instead of getting encouragement, we are talking about rights. These blood-sucking demons deserve no mercy from our military. Maybe very soon, we will hear about the rights of the bandits from SERAP.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and as long as the military doesn’t kill innocent people, anything is fine by me.

Also, I think the negotiation options are off with the bandits. Zamfara and Katsina states governors are now saying they regret granting amnesty to the bandits.

The only way out of this is a massive military action which they are doing right now and it should be sustained till we achieve total victory. I also believe that the military should move into the forests bordering Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, and Kebbi states. This bloodletting and kidnappings must stop.

Jonathan Nda-Isaiah, political director at LEADERSHIP Newspapers, can be reached via 08061573299, 08054518774.

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