Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has declared that the allegation of the federal government pampering bandits and being hard on secessionists such as the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has no basis.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the minister described the allegation as a misconception and fake news rolled into one.
He said, “We noticed that of recent, there is this misinformation as regards the way the federal government, especially the military, is handling the issue of banditry and terrorism.
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“There is this misconception that the federal government is softer on the terrorists in the north-east and the bandits from the north-west and the way they handle separatists and other criminals from the south-east and south-west.
“I want to say without any hesitation that this is a fallacy. It is a misrepresentation, misinformation and fake news all rolled into one. The truth of the matter is that the federal government does not make a distinction between terrorists and bandits. As far as the federal government is concerned, they are all criminals and they are treated the same way,” he said.
Mohammed said it was important to set the record straight because “it is a continuation of the destructive rhetoric of some commentators.”
The minister cautioned that the issue of security must not be politicised because “bandits kill soldiers; they kill policemen and innocent people. So, why will the military be softer on one set of criminals than the other?
He said the surrendering of Boko Haram insurgents showed that peace is returning to the war-ravaged region, adding that the military had heightened the “assaults and attacks” against the insurgents which have enabled it to reclaim more territories.
“There is no doubt about the fact that the government is winning the war against the terrorists. A few years ago, when we came in 2015 – of the 20 local government areas in Borno, about 13 were under the effective control of Boko Haram.
“On December 5, 2015, we travelled to Bama, Konduga, Kaure and Maiduguri. The distance from Maiduguri to Bama is about 78 kilometres, but no single vehicle is on the way. It was like a suicide mission.
“The week after we left, a commander was killed on the same route. When we got to Bama, of the over 6,000 houses in Bama, not one was standing. They have all been bombed by Boko Haram.
“Today, go to Bama and see for yourselves. And when we went in 2015, you couldn’t travel more than a few kilometres outside Maiduguri metropolis,” he said.
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