Mohammed Sani Musa, senator representing Niger east, says the federal government needs to be “very ruthless” with bandits.
The senator said this on Wednesday, during an interview on Channels Television.
While responding to questions on how things have fared in his constituency and Niger in general, the lawmaker said the state experienced relative peace for a while, but the situation has now worsened.
“In the last six months, it was very bad. Not until when the new service chiefs came and there was some kind of action, different from what they were doing before. And we had some kind of peace for some time, until now, when the terrorists all went back,” he said.
It seems they all went back to Zamfara, which seems to be the epicentre of it. So, when they all went back to Zamfara, and the government decided to hit them in Zamfara, they’re now spreading. We had some peace in the last two months, but now, they’re back and they’re very ruthless. So, we also want the government to be very ruthless with them.”
Musa also said Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric who has repeatedly spoken on behalf of bandits, should be asked how he contacts them.
The senator, who insisted that “there is a need to declare these bandits as terrorists”, wondered why Gumi has not helped the government with information on addressing banditry.
I won’t say we know them (referring to bandits). Just as we said, they have cells and they have a kind of leadership structure in the cell,” he said.
“I recall that one of the renowned Islamic scholars, sheikh Gumi, was at a time going into the forests to be with these people.
“I think somebody like Gumi should be asked how he has contacts to reach these people. And if he can reach these people, why is it that he has not been able to help the government in order to get these people neutralised?”
SECURITY AGENCIES HAVE INFORMATION ON BANDITS’
Also speaking on the programme, Mike Ejiofor, a retired director with the Department of State Services (DSS), said intelligence agencies have “huge volume” of information about the operations of bandits.
“I tell you that most of these operations are intelligence-driven and the volume, the quantum of intelligence gathered on these people (referring to bandits) is huge,” he said.
“I also believe that the security forces, at times, get frustrated. You are arresting people, we are still fighting war, and people are also calling for amnesty. How do you reconcile that? Some of them who have been granted amnesty go back to their criminalities.