Former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai says there is a strong religious affinity between northerners and the bandits and terrorists threatening Nigeria’s security.

“There is strong religious affinity between the people in the town and the bandits and terrorists in the forests,” according to Mr Buratai.

The former COAS, who currently is Nigeria’s ambassador to the Benin Republic, made this statement while speaking on Channels TV on Friday.

Championing the deradicalisation of bandits and terrorists, and the education of northerners, Mr Buratai said this will positively impact on the war against terror.

“There should be more deradicalisation and further education on the impact and consequence of terrorism, banditry, kidnappings in the society to the people who lives in town so that they don’t support the bandits or the terrorists in the bush,” Mr Buratai said.

For over a decade, Nigeria’s North-East has been under incessant attacks by Boko Haram terrorists who are bent on establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the region.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in June reported that since taken up arms against the Nigerian state in 2009, Boko Haram terrorists have killed about 350,000 people in the North-East, 90 per cent of whom were children.

Similarly in the North-West, bandits have continued to murder, ransack communities and kidnap citizens (especially schoolchildren) in their hundreds for ransom; forcing schools closure in Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara on different occasions.

In November, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court declared them terrorists.

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