The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Tuesday, said the Federal Government is ready to deploy Super Tucano fighter jets against bandits and terrorists.
He also said his office was in the process of gazetting a court judgement that ordered the government to declare bandits as terrorists, adding that the process would be concluded in a matter of days.
Malami spoke on Tuesday as a guest on NTA Good Morning Nigeria Show.
The military had been reluctant to deploy the aircraft outside the North-East because of the conditions attached to the sale of the aircraft by the United States, which was anchored on human rights.
But the AGF said on Tuesday that the coast had become clear to deploy the Super Tucano aircraft against bandits in the North-West and North-Central, following the court order declaring them as terrorists.
He said, “Now, we are confronted with another threat in the North-West associated with banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and in all these, these people are using weapons to attack Nigerians, kidnap them and created a situation of serious security challenge and fear in the system.
“Whatever military hardware you acquire there are limits within the context of the international convention as to how it can be used, when it can be used and against who it can be used. And that is how the idea of looking at the activities of the bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers come into being.
“Our assessment taking into consideration that they are causing a major threat to the territorial peaceful co-existence and causing a major threat to lives with weapons, the idea then came about that indeed they (bandits) have satisfied the criteria of being declared terrorists within the context of the law so that whatever military hardware at the disposal of the Federal Government can best be used against them within the context of the international convention and within the context of the law.”
On why the use of the Super Tucano fighter jets and the declaration of bandits as terrorists has not been gazetted, Malami said, “The gazetting of a court order or judgement is a process but what matters fundamentally within the context of international convention is the judicial declaration and that has been obtained; the court has declared bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers as terrorists.
“So, with or without the gazette, what gives effect to such declaration is a judicial pronouncement but the gazette is a mere formality and it has been on and I believe within a matter of days, it will be concluded.”
On whether the military has the clearance to use the jets, he said, “I can tell you that with the international convention demands associated with the usage of Super Tucano has been obtained which is a judicial pronouncement and declaration of bandits, cattle rustlers and indeed kidnappers as terrorists and that has been procured and the way has now been cleared for the application, deployment and usage of Super Tucano. Whether they have been put to use or not, I cannot say.”