A former Chairman of Transparency International Nigeria and ex-Chief of Army Operations, Training and Plans, Major General Ishola Williams (retd.), said the job of the military was not to go after bandits.
Rather, he said fight against bandits was the duty of the Mobile Police – the paramilitary arm of the Nigeria Police Force designated to take over operations of major crisis where conventional police units cannot cope.
“It’s not the job of the military to run after criminals. The military was created to run after insurgents. It is wrong to be using the military in cases of banditry,” Williams told Sunday PUNCH.
The retired general said sending the military after bandits would make the military lose focus.
“The military should focus on insurgency and leave MOPOL to do their job,” he said.
Williams also canvassed the separation of the paramilitary police from the police service adding that it should be independent of the Inspector-General of Police.
“A commander should head MOPOL. This is what is done in other countries. The MOPOL should be independent of the IG and report only to the Minister of Internal Security.
“The President can make this happen. All he needs to do is to state that he wants to separate the paramilitary police from the police service. He will draft a bill and pass it to the National Assembly and once the latter passes it, that’s all,” he said.
The military has been involved in attacks bandits, killing and kidnapping the citizens in particularly the northwestern part of the country.
In January, the Defence Headquarters said the Air Component of Operation Thunder Strike “neutralised” many bandits at Chikwale Forest in the Mangoro area of Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
In the same month, the Defence Headquarters said in a statement that the troops killed 50 bandits and recovered 334 rustled livestock at Kuriya village in the Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
In the past few years, the North-West has faced devastating attacks from bandits, particularly in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states.
One of the latest attacks by bandits was the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Jangebe, Zamfara State, last Friday.
The pupils were later released on Sunday after negotiations were reportedly made between the bandits and the government.
A week earlier, bandits had kidnapped dozens of pupils and workers of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State.
Bandits had also last December kidnapped over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.