The presidency has described bandits killing, raping and abducting residents particularly in Northern Nigeria as criminals and not terrorists.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina stated this in an interview with Vanguard, apparently justifying why his principal’s administration has refused to brand the violent extremists as terrorists although it said the process of doing so is still on course.
Mr Adesina explained that any ideologically-driven group that seeks to control any part of the country should be tagged as terrorists but this runs contrary to the conduct of the regime.
“Who are terrorist?,” he queried. “Terrorists more often than not levy war against a nation and they seek to seize territories and occupy them. That is a terrorist and that is why Boko Haram are terrorists, because at the time before this administration came, they were occupying a minimum of 17 local governments in this country and they wanted more. They wanted to take over the entire country and create a caliphate. They are terrorists.
“These ones, bandits, they have no ideology. No ideology. They are just interested in criminality for the sake of criminality. Robbing, raping, maiming, stealing, no ideology. Have you heard that they seized territory? They are not interested. So, but like I said, criminality is criminality. Eliminate all of them and that is what our security forces are doing.”
The regime which hurriedly proscribed Shiites members who were not seeking to control any part of the federation in 2019 says the process of branding herdsmen-turned-bandits as terrorists was still on despite their atrocities since 2017.
Critics argue that the lukewarm of the Buhari administration in doing so was due to the alleged nepotistic attitude of the president.