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  One of the handfuls of Elder Statesmen left in the nation, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has faulted the subsisting trend whereby terrorists are being called bandits.
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While speaking at the 10th edition of the Emeka Anyaoku Lecture Series on Good Governance, the former ex Secretary-General of Commonwealth of Nations has hit the nail on the head with the dishonesty and bias inherent in referring to “Terrorists” as “Bandits”. These so-called acts of banditry, he said, must be called what they are, “terrorists, and nothing more” because of the rising cases of kidnappings. This trend of misnaming terrorists became mainstream some years back when ‘Niger Delta militants’ were a menace to the Nigerian society in how they blew up pipelines and kidnapped oil workers from oil installations. Yet, Niger Delta militants did not receive preferential treatment from the Federal Government of the time. For weeks now, state governors have been forced to evacuate their indigenes from the University of Jos and its environs because of the carnage there. The government have been finding it difficult to protect the vulnerable indigenous population of Plateau State from hostile neighbours for decades, yet these unfortunate events remained on repeat. When assailants invaded the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) to kill and kidnap some military men in the early hours of Tuesday, the Commandant of the NDA also took the safe route of addressing the attackers as “unknown gunmen” instead of “terrorists”. The narrative of “unknown gunmen” is now being incessantly used to describe these perpetrators of the violent acts across the Northern part of the country. It is safe to say by now that this narrative is a masterstroke move intended by the propagandists to brainwash the average Nigerian that the terrorist crimes being committed by these violent groups are not as grave. The trick of describing terrorists as bandits has worked well so far that some Nigerians are now gradually believing that those crimes can be excused, forgiven and forgotten.
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It is for the same reason that ‘ex-members of Boko Haram or ISWAP are being released from prison and prematurely ‘re-integrated back into society with joy. The media also stopped interrogating the atrocities of the so-called bandits and this has devolved into a case of the media romanticising terrorists and their activities. As a reminder, the Nigerian government, Minister of Information,  did not extend this same benefit of the doubt to the non-violent #EndSARS protestors that the military and the Nigerian Police opened fire on October 20, 2020. It is due to all these examples that a section of the country is factually believed to be receiving preferential treatment from the Federal Government. The instruments of the state such as the military, police, SSS and especially the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice are being regarded as biased currently. As long as the body language of the government at the centre is not frowning at terrorist acts committed by criminals, the ranks and file of the assailants will only continue to receive a morale boost and attacks will spread to all levels of the Nigerian society. For instance, there is nothing stopping the government from pronouncing certain groups who conduct kidnapping and violent operations as terrorist groups. Pronouncing these groups as terrorist organisations will automatically compel law enforcement agencies to carry out their counter-terrorist operations without fear or favour. For whatever ulterior motive the personalities in power have, they have indirectly tied the hands of law enforcement agencies who ensure order in the country. In all, the fight against insurgency, terrorism and other nefarious activities can be brought to an end if the government at all levels take a bold step to call these perpetrators by their rightful name. The most important task right now is as simple as calling them “Terrorists”, not “Bandits”. Featured Image Source: Premium Times NG
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This article was first published on 31st August 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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