The federal government has declared war on unknown gunmen annihilating security agencies in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones.

It also refused to adopt the same measures for bandits terrorising citizens and kidnapping school children in Northern Nigeria in exchange for ransom.

While an Islamic cleric continues his campaign, pressuring the government to grant amnesty to the criminals, a former secretary at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Usman Yusuf, said bandits ought not be killed but be provided for.

The government says it will not accede to demands seeking amnesty for bandits attacking and killing civilians and has refused to unleash its military might against them.

There have been increased attacks on security facilities and personnel in the former eastern region. The attacks, TODAY POLITICS learnt, increased after the formation of Eastern Security Network (ESN), the militia arm of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), late last year.

Addressing online publishers during a meeting on Tuesday Mr Mohammed said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration will crush the criminals in the Southern part of the country while their counterparts in the North continue to be at large.

“Soldiers, as well as the police, customs, and other security agents, have been killed and maimed in some parts of the country in this growing trend of targeting security forces,” the minister said. “I want to say unequivocally that any attack on our security men and women is an attack on the state and a declaration of war against the nation. It follows, therefore, that this will be countered with overwhelming force.

“When those whose responsibility it is to protect us are themselves being subjected to mindless attacks, it can only be for one reason. To instil fear and evoke a sense of pervasive insecurity among the people.

“Whether known or unknown gunmen, those engaging in this dastardly act will pay dearly for their actions,” Mohammed added.