The call for criminals - or bandits, as locals say – to be branded terrorists has been long and loud since they graduated from stealing cattle to downing a military jet.
The government has now officially designated them as “terrorists”, after a high court in Abuja made a similar ruling about the gangs.
It is now left to be seen how much the new designation will affect the war against the criminals in Nigeria’s north-west and north-central states, but it changes how the military can fight them and what sort of weapons it can use. .
The Super Tucano jets received last year from the US could not previously be used against the bandits but now they can be.
The change in classification also makes it easier to prosecute the bandits for the myriad crimes they carry out – from the kidnapping of school children to the theft of cattle.
Suspects can simply be charged with terrorism, rather than different offences.
Communities and politicians that tacitly supported the bandits would now think twice of doing so, as they risked being linked to terror groups.
While most communities have been coerced into paying taxes to these criminals to ensure their survival, which in turn helped fund them, there is likely going to be less cooperation now.
It is also hoped that this designation would discourage people from getting into banditry in northern Nigeria.