Nigeria brands bandit gangs 'terrorists' in bid to curb violence

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Heavily armed gangs have long plagued Nigeria's northwest and north-central states, raiding villages to loot and kidnap for ransom, but violence has become more widespread.
Heavily armed gangs have long plagued Nigeria's northwest and north-central states, raiding villages to loot and kidnap for ransom, but violence has become more widespread.
Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Bandit gangs were labelled as terrorists in the official gazette.
  • They are known for high-profile attacks of schools and colleges to kidnap scores of pupils for ransom.
  • Bandit violence has its roots in clashes between nomadic cattle herders and farmers over land and resources.


Nigeria's government on Wednesday labelled criminal bandit gangs blamed for mass kidnappings as terrorist groups in an attempt to deter violence in the country's northwest.

Heavily armed gangs have long plagued Nigeria's northwest and north-central states, raiding villages to loot and kidnap for ransom, but violence has become more widespread.

President Muhammadu Buhari's government, already battling a more than decade-long jihadist conflict in the northeast, had been under pressure to do more to halt attacks from the criminal gangs.

In the official gazette on Wednesday, the federal government labelled activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta'adda – references in the Hausa language to bandit gunmen – "as acts of terrorism and illegality".

"I think the only language they understand – we have discussed it thoroughly with the law enforcement agencies; the security chiefs, the Inspector General of Police – is to go after them," Buhari told Channels Television, according to its website on Wednesday.

READ | Nigeria air strikes 'kill more than 100 jihadists'

"We labelled them terrorists... we are going to deal with them as such."

The official gazette referred to criminal gangs who carry out mass kidnapping of school children, abduction for ransom, cattle rustling and destruction of property among other crimes.

The definition will mean tougher sanctions under the terrorism prevention act for suspected bandit gunmen, their informants and supporters such as those caught supplying them with fuel and food.

Nigerian daily newspapers often carry stories about bandit raids on villages and communities, where they steal cattle, kidnap families and terrorise residents.

Security forces have announced a crackdown, including air raids and a telecoms shutdown in parts of the country's northwest in an attempt to flush criminal gangs from their forest hideouts.

On Tuesday, police announced they had rescued nearly 100 kidnap victims in two raids on bandit camps in northwestern Zamfara state.

READ | Cattle thieves kill 38 civilians in northern Nigeria

Last year, bandit gangs made international headlines with a serious of high-profile attacks of schools and colleges to kidnap scores of pupils for ransom. Some of those students are still being held.

Nigeria's bandit violence has its roots in clashes between nomadic cattle herders and sedentary farmers over land and resources. But tit-for-tat attacks have over the years spiralled into broader criminality.


Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nappies, they cost too much
7% - 298 votes
Formula and food, it's getting so expensive
18% - 790 votes
Creche and school fees are a struggle every month
76% - 3402 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.91
+1.1%
Rand - Pound
19.83
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.78
+0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.17
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.3%
Gold
1,838.42
+1.2%
Silver
21.78
+1.7%
Palladium
1,986.50
-1.5%
Platinum
949.00
+1.2%
Brent Crude
109.11
-2.6%
Top 40
61,167
-2.1%
All Share
67,644
-2.1%
Resource 10
70,604
-1.7%
Industrial 25
75,170
-2.1%
Financial 15
15,586
-2.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE