From all indications in recent times, gone are the days when all the northern bandits were known for was kidnapping, as previously propagated by the likes of Sheik Gumi. Nowadays, they kill as well as kidnap, or just shoot people sporadically for hours as seen in case of the Goronyo Market massacre which resulted in the loss of over 40 lives in Sokoto state.
Photo credit: Online Nigeria.
Before this tragic event, there have been calls from prominent individuals like the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, for the Federal government to declare the bandits as terrorists. However, the government has refused to do so, arguing through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the bandits are simple criminals who believe in one Nigeria, and are not united in purpose, nor do they threaten the country's unity like Boko Haram and IPOB.
Photo credit: BBC.
This article seeks to look at why this latest massacre in Sokoto should spur the government into declaring bandits as terrorists. As aforementioned, the controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, had once said something similar to Lai Mohammed about IPOB and the bandits.
Photo credit: The Whistler.
Some months ago, Sheik Gumi argued that IPOB is worse than the bandits. He based his argument on the premise that, while the secessionist group kills people in the southeast and promote disunity, the bandits in the north only kidnap for ransom. It should be noted that one of the reasons IPOB is seen as a terrorist organisation, is because of the illicit activities of the unknown gunmen alleged to be its members.
Photo credit: Vanguard News.
If this reason is anything to go by, then the senseless killing of dozens of innocent traders in Sokoto state places the bandits in the same camp as the unknown gunmen of the southeast. The massacre that took place is nothing short of an act of terror. Furthermore eyewitnesses reported that several gangs of bandits teamed up for the attack.
While the cooperation among the bandits to kill innocent civilians can not be said to threaten Nigeria's unity, as is the case with IPOB and Boko Haram terrorists, it goes without saying that the criminals were united in their evil purpose. There is hardly any other term for such a strategic attack on people than terrorism.
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