Mr Lai spoke on AIT’s Kaakaki programme on Wednesday, explaining that proscribing bandits in the country is not what really matters but how they are treated.
Comparing bandits with armed robbers, the minister said bandits and others who challenge the security of a nation cannot be legally proscribed since they do not have an identity.
He said, “You proscribe known groups with names. You can’t just proscribe an unknown group legally. Secondly, it’s not whether they are proscribed or not, it is the way they are treated. Does the government actually treat them with kid gloves? The answer is no.”
Speaking on the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra by the Nigerian government, Mohammed also pointed out that there is a difference between the bandits and the group, noting that “When a group is championing a course for the disintegration of Nigeria… A group like IPOB (that) does not even recognise Nigeria as a state, sets up its own army and thinks it is a sovereign state, is different from bandits and criminals. Please, don’t compare apples and oranges.”
But when asked if the bandits do not also threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria by taking up arms against its citizens, Mohammed described the cases are completely different from each other.
He said, “Security challenges are one thing. Challenging the sovereignty of Nigeria is a completely different thing. Don’t let us dwell on semantics.”
Speaking further, he said, “Don’t armed robbers threaten the security of lives and property? They do. Is there anywhere in the world that armed robbers have been proscribed?”
Many Nigerians had been asking the government if it was justified to have proscribed IPOB, saying they were not known to be killers like groups of bandits terrorising citizens across the country.