Proscription order: Military to unleash Tucano warplanes against bandits
Following a ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday declaring bandits as terrorists, the Nigerian Air Force is set to deploy Super Tucano aircraft in the North-West and North-Central regions of the country, especially in Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states.
The military, Saturday PUNCH learnt, had been reluctant to deploy the aircraft outside the North-East because of the conditions attached to the sale of the aircraft by the United States, which was anchored on human rights.
But top sources in the military told Saturday PUNCH that the coast had become clear to deploy the Super Tucano aircraft against bandits in the North-West and North-Central, following the court order declaring them as terrorists.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had, in a ruling on Thursday, declared activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups as acts of terrorism.
The ruling followed an ex parte motion filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mohammed Abubakar.
The DPPF told the court that the ex parte application was filed on the instructions of the President, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
In the affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, it was averred that security reports confirmed that bandits were behind “incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of schoolchildren and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters and wanton destruction of lives and property in Nigeria, particularly in the North-West and North-Central states in Nigeria.”
The affidavit added, “The activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda groups and other similar groups constitute acts of terrorism that can lead to a breakdown of public order and safety and is a threat to national security and the corporate existence of Nigeria.”
After entertaining the ex parte application, Justice Taiwo declared the activities of the Yan Bindiga, group” and the “Yan Ta’adda groups and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the North-West and the North-Central as “acts of terrorism and illegality.”
The judge also made “an order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described.”
The court directed the Federal Government to publish the proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.
This newspaper had reported that in 2021, bandits had killed more people than Boko Haram.
This is said to have informed the decision of the National Assembly last month to call on the President to declare bandits as terrorists.
A top General told Saturday Punch on Friday, “We are waiting for instructions from the government for the next line of action. This was one of the things the Service Chiefs discussed with the President on Thursday morning. So, we await further instructions.”
When contacted, the acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig. Gen, Bernard Onyeuko, however, said the announcement on the next step would be made at the appropriate time.
He said, “Wait for us, we would brief you people at the appropriate time. For now, allow us to do our work.”
Saturday PUNCH reports that the activities of bandits have crippled activities in various states including Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Niger and Katsina.
Most of the states have been forced to shut telecommunications base stations, halting Internet and telephone services while in some instances petrol stations were shut along with land borders all in a bid to curb banditry.
In Kaduna State alone, the state government reported that between January and September 2021, no fewer than 888 people were killed while 2, 553 were abducted.