The leader of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus, has stated that the recent declaration of bandits as terrorists by President Muhammadu Buhari has so far not yielded any positive outcomes.
Pogu, who has been at the forefront of fighting the cause of minority tribes of the Middle Belt, maintained that the crises in the region, occasioned by the perennial invasion of the villages by armed bandits, who sacked villages and in the process killed, maimed and destroyed properties necessitated the formation of the forum.
He added that since bandits were declared terrorists, they had gone out of gear and had extended their activities everywhere in the North.
Pogu maintained that although Boko Haram was declared terrorists right from the international community, it did not reduce the activities of the insurgents.
Accoding to him, the military is stationed, waiting for Boko Haram or for bandits to attack before they respond.
He further accused the military of failing to raids bandits and terrorists hideouts despite knowing their locations.
Pogu said, “As you have properly noticed, the bandits have increased and expanded their activities rather than diminished them. So, the issue here is not whether the name has been changed from bandits to terrorists but what has been the attitude of the government towards the issues. Have there been efforts by the military to curb their activities?
“Is our military going after them in their locations which they know or are they still staying in their permanent locations rather than going to fight these bandits or terrorists? So, it is the behaviour of government that translates to the behaviour of our security agencies and that is escalating whatever insurgency we are suffering.
“I am the type of person that is convinced that given a free hand, one month is too much for our military to clear off these people because they know their locations. Bandits are not stronger than the government, they don’t have more arms than the government; anybody who tells you that they have more arms is lying. They don’t have an airbus that can fire from the sky; the kind of artillery our military has, they don’t have.
Most of what they have is sophisticated guns mounted on tanks. So, it is still the government that should mobilise actions against them.”