President Muhammadu Buhari is remarkable for making promises to crush bandits without a concrete action.
The level of insecurity that has ravaged the nation under the Buhari administration has pushed the President many times to, not only condemn the bandits attacks but also threaten to phase them out.
However, this has only turned out to be empty threats as attacks are constantly being carried out on innocent citizens with no clear repercussions on the bandits.
Here is a timeline of times President Buhari has promised to deal with bandits since 2019:
April 12, 2019
On 12th April 2019, Buhari reportedly ordered security chiefs to rout bandits terrorising Zamfara State and its environs. He also charged them to tackle cases of kidnapping and other security challenges across the country.
The then Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin said, “The president gave us a marching order to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues bordering on our security are properly addressed.”
April 11, 2019
Barely 24 hours earlier, Buhari had handed a marching order to security agencies to smoke out bandits from their various hideouts across the country.
“You must locate and smoke them out wherever they exist,” Buhari was quoted as saying.
The president who spoke through the then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at Batsari, Katsina State, described the activities of bandits operating in various parts of the country, especially in the north, as a challenge to the Federal Government.
He told members of a special task force at the Divisional Police headquarters, Batsari: “I want you to take the fight to their abode and smoke them out.”
In August 2019, Buhari tasked the military to be more spontaneous in restoring peace to the country, particularly states troubled by bandits.
The Commander in Chief of the country’s Armed Forces also ordered them not to spare bandits that have been killing, maiming and extorting innocent citizens.
September 11, 2019
On 11 September, 2019, Buhari disclosed that the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East region of the country are the ones operating as bandits killing innocent citizens.
Buhari said, “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands. That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such.”
May 17, 2020
On 17 May, 2020, Buhari ordered a total crackdown on bandits and kidnappers perpetuating heinous crimes in Katsina state.
Buhari asked security operatives to sweep away kidnappers and bandits in Katsina.
A statement reads: “A major proactive operation by Special Forces, which details are being kept secret, is now in progress to replace the reactive strikes against insurgent camps.
To give a full effect to the exercise, a planning team is already in the state selecting targets and making preparations for the execution of the “unprecedented” operation.
However, in December 2020, schoolchildren were abducted from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara town, Katsina State by a group of gunmen.
This was at the same time the president was on a private visit to his hometown Daura which is less than 150 km from the scene of the incident.
In November 2020, President Buhari, while condemning the killing of over 40 farmers by Boko Haram, noted that the Federal Government had given the armed forces the support to tackle insecurity in the country.
News Media reported that about 43 farmers were beheaded by Boko Haram in the town of Zabarmari, less than 20 km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
President Buhari stated he had given all the needed support to the armed forces “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”
On Feb 25 2021, President Buhari assured Nigerians that his government will continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens.
The president stressed that “criminals are criminals and must be dealt with accordingly without resulting to ethnic profiling.”
On 31 March 2021, Buhari ordered the country’s security chiefs to identify and crush bandits, kidnappers, their local collaborators and sponsors to restore confidence in the society.
This was during a meeting with the security chiefs at the State House, Abuja, before his latest medical checkup in the UK.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, said the president warned that his administration would no longer accept a situation where bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements are dictating the pace in the fight against insecurity in the country while the security agencies remained reactionary.
The NSA in his statement said, “Mr President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that their first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits and kidnappers and take them out in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation where bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tones and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reaction rather than being proactive,” he said.
A similiar threat had been issued in April 2021 where President Buhari warned bandits against pushing their luck too far by believing his administration lacked the capacity to crush them.
This was after bandits killed tens of people in Zamfara State.
Reacting to the incident, President Buhari warned that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.”
According to him, “the insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”.
He added that “these criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.”
The President directed the military, security and intelligence agencies to take immediate steps to close all existing gaps in their operations being exploited by criminals to wreak havoc.
“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration,” the President warned.
Buhari called on the security forces to “redouble their efforts in bringing an end to this mindless violence against innocent people.”
“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power.”
Buhari reassured the people of Zamfara State that, “despite the latest setback in our efforts to protect our citizens, there will be no compromise in our determination to defeat these enemies of humanity.”
On May 13, 2021, Buhari pledged that his administration would deploy every available manpower in dealing with bandits to prevent them from wreaking havoc on farms and food production in the coming planting season.
Addressing newsmen at the State House, Abuja shortly after observing the Eid-el-Fitri prayers, the President stressed that the menace would be addressed for food security.
According to him, “The law enforcement agencies are working hard to regain confidence against bandits so that we can go back to the land.
“This is very important. This is what the agencies are busy doing right now. We want people to go back to the land so that we can get enough food for the country and even export.”
On June 1, 2021, Buhari also promised that his government will get “harder” on those hellbent on destroying Nigeria.
He said those wanting to destroy his government will receive the shock of their lives as his administration will do everything possible to ensure they fail.
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