Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesman, claimed that the president has treated AK-47 wielding bandits worse than IPOB.
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He explained that the current government had only banned IPOB, but had ordered bandits to be shot on sight.
Shehu was responding to a question on BBC News Pidgin about why Buhari’s administration has not outlawed bandits like it has for IPOB.
Mr Shehu further argued that Mr Buhari regime was not giving bandits any form of preferential treatment as they are being killed in their hundreds.
The military is attacking bandits from the air and on the ground, he said.
“What the Buhari administration has done to the arms-wielding bandits is worse than declaring them terrorists,” Shehu says. The President has issued a directive that any AK-47-wielding bandits should be shot on sight.
“Yes, IPOB has been declared illegal by the law of the land; however, there is no order to shoot on sight.
“The Nigerian Air Force is bombing locations; the military is on the ground, exchanging fire with bandits and killing them by the hundreds; this is not a light treatment of bandits.”
“Well, I am not suggesting bombing IPOB or anybody. I want to say that the entire weaponry is today targeted at these bandits and terrorists,” Mr Shehu said.
In recent months, bandits in coordinated attacks have killed and abducted hundreds of school children for ransom in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara State, forcing schools to shut down in some of these states.
In July, bandits shot down a Nigerian Airforce jet, eliciting much condemnation from citizens who described their nefarious activities as acts of terrorism.
When further asked why bandits who have done more harm compared to the proscribed IPOB were still not declared terrorists by Mr Buhari regime, Mr Shehu said “Yes, we hear that a lot of times. But I want to say I disagree with that position.
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Amnesty International had in 2016 reported how the Nigerian military extrajudicially killed at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in South-East Nigeria.
In 2017, Mr Buhari proscribed IPOB a terrorist group for calling for self-determination. The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, was recently abducted in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria to face trial.
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