Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has explained why the Nigerian Government had yet to gazette the order proscribing bandits as terrorists.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on November 26 granted an ex parte application by the Federal Government for Yan Bindiga (Hausa word for gunmen) and Yan Ta’adda (Hausa word for terrorists) to be declared as terrorists but Malami refused to do so.
The court asked the AGF to publish the order in two national dailies and to also publish the order in the official gazette.
Malami had in a statement promised to do so, however, this has not been done several weeks after.
In an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority on Tuesday, Malami said government was trying to ensure that it operates within the confines of international best practices.
He said, “Government has a responsibility to act but within the context of acting, you’re equally expected to operate within the confines of international best practices associated with engagement, and one of such best practices is that you can only use maximum force on groups, individuals that are declared terrorists and that is where the application of the Terrorism Act comes in place.
“Whatever military hardware you acquire, there are limits within the context of the international convention as to how it can be used, when it can be used, and against who it can be used. And that is how the idea of looking at the activities of the bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers come into being.
“Our assessment took into consideration that they are causing a major threat to the territorial peaceful co-existence and causing a major threat to lives with weapons, the idea then came about that indeed they (bandits) have satisfied the criteria of being declared terrorists within the context of the law so that whatever military hardware at the disposal of the federal government can best be used against them within the context of the international convention and within the context of the law.
“The gazetting of a court order or judgement is a process but what matters fundamentally within the context of the international convention is the judicial declaration and that has been obtained; the court has declared bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers as terrorists.
“So, with or without the gazette, what gives effect to such declaration is a judicial pronouncement but the gazette is a mere formality and it has been on and I believe within a matter of days, it will be concluded.”
The AGF added that the declaration of bandits as terrorists has cleared the way for the “deployment and usage” of Super Tucano fighter jets against them.
He added, “One thing I can tell you is any international conventional demands associated with the usage of the Super Tucano has been obtained which is a judicial pronouncement and declaration of bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers as terrorists.”
Meanwhile, in the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the AGF was able to gazette the designation of IPOB as terrorists on the same day that Justice Abdu Kafarati gave the order on September 20, 2017.
The document signed by the AGF was titled, ‘Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017’ is contained in Volume 104 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.