The House of Representatives has backed the Senate in its call for President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits and their sponsors as terrorists.

The decision of the lawmakers follows the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the Chairman of the Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson and is coming barely a day after their counterparts in the Senate took a similar stand.

The call was made by members of the House of Representatives during Thursday’s plenary session in the green chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, according to ChannelsTV.

What the Chairman, House Committee on Defence is saying

Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, who had raised the matter while addressing his colleagues in the lower house, said it was important to support the position of the Senate on the issue in view of the current insecurity across the country.

The motion from Benson reads, “The Senate on Wednesday, 29th September 2021 adopted a motion asking President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits ravaging the northern part of the country terrorists and wage a total war on them,” the lawmaker told his colleagues.

“They also asked that the President declare all known leaders of bandits wanted and arrest them, wherever they were found for speedy prosecution. Such declaration to be done through a Proscription Order can be done pursuant to Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (As Amended).

“I would like to echo the same sentiment and ask honourable colleagues to join the Senate in urging Mr President to declare bandits and their sponsors as terrorists. This will underline the determination of the government to combat the wave of criminality and murders conducted by bandits all over the country.”

Benson explained that declaring bandits as terrorists could be done through a proscription order, to serve as a source of inspiration for security personnel to redouble their efforts towards dealing with the threat.

He also noted that when given the force of law, the declaration will further encourage the security personnel to deal with the menace of banditry, saying the mode of operations and rules of engagement would be scaled up accordingly.

According to the lawmaker, such an order will officially bring the activities of bandits and their sponsors within the purview of the Terrorism Prevention Act while persons associated with such groups will be legally prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the Act.

He said, “Declaration of all bandits as terrorists may also encourage other countries to do same and help create a global consensus around dealing with transnational factors that feed the domestic activities of such proscribed organisations and individuals.

“As previously observed in this House, no [single] action can be a silver bullet to solving our insecurity in Nigeria. But a collection of many effective actions and strategies can bring safety. It is in this spirit that I speak today.

“Insecurity in Nigeria requires an all-of-government approach. Hence, I also urge the President to implement the recommendations of the National Security Summit, which took place in June this year and was officially delivered to Mr President in July. All hands have to be on deck to be able to win this battle against insecurity in all its manifestations.”

What you should know

Nigeria has been faced with serious security challenges especially from bandits and kidnappers across the country.

The Nigerian Senate, while adopting a motion jointly sponsored by Senators Gobir and Ibrahim Abdullahi at the plenary session yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to place bandits on the same pedestal as terrorists.

At the session presided over by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the lawmakers called for a declaration of total war against bandits and terrorists, including bombing all their locations to annihilate and eliminate them.

The Senate further demanded the arrest and prosecution of bandits responsible for the loss of lives and properties in the northern part of the country.