Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has urged the media and Nigerians in general to stop branding terrorists and mere bandits.
Mr Falana made the appeal in a statement on Sunday while reacting to the Federal Government’s seeming silence on the calls to declare bandits as terrorists.
He made reference to the Chibok situation, as well as IPOB among others who the government was “quick to proscribe” as terrorists and yet has continued to treat banditry ‘lightly’.
“It is public knowledge that the dangerous criminal elements who kidnapped the Chibok and Dapchi secondary school girls in the North East Zone in 2014 and 2017 respectively were not referred to as bandits.
“They were called terrorists by the Federal Government and the media. The description was correct as the abductions carried out by the criminal elements were acts of terrorism. But for reasons best known to the Federal Government the criminal elements who are currently involved in the brutal killing of innocent people and abduction of thousands of people including primary school pupils in the North West Zone are called bandits and not terrorists.
“Embarrassed by the reluctance of the Federal Government to deal decisively with the so-called bandits the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, in separate sittings, unanimously passed resolutions last weekend requesting President Buhari to declare the dangerous criminal elements as terrorists and proscribe them in accordance with the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act as amended without any further delay.
“The federal lawmakers also asked President Buhari to declare all the known leaders of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution. So far, the Federal Government has ignored the resolutions.
“However, as the Federal Government is not prepared to declare them as terrorists we call on the media and the Nigerian people to stop referring to terrorists as bandits,” the Senior Advocate said.
The Senate had during the plenary last Wednesday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists.
The federal lawmakers also asked the President to declare all the known leaders of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
The resolutions followed a motion moved by the Senator representing Sokoto East, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir, and eight others.
There’s however, yet to be any reaction from the presidency.
The calls have come at a time when parts of the country are rife with banditry, wanton killings, and kidnap for ransoms.
But amid that is also the provision of amnesty for repentant bandits which has sharply divided opinions.