By Kingsley Omonobi-Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has described Boko Haram, its adherents and other Islamic deviants who kill the innocent and shout ‘God (Allah) is great’, as mentally unbalanced people saying ‘it is either they do not know the meaning of those words or they are simply deranged’.
Noting that ‘these enemies (Boko Haram) are essentially an insane nuisance because they revel in cowardly attacks’, Buhari said, “There must be an understanding that the war against terrorism is the most unconventional one. They (terrorists) do not respect any rules of engagement; kill the defenseless including prisoners, use children and humans, girls and consider the killing of anyone at all at a victory.
Speaking through Vice President Yemi Osibajo at the launch of the revised National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), in Abuja, Buhari said, “Therefore as we think through our strategy we must remember that to permanently win the physical battle, we must win the battle of the minds of even the most impressionable young men who sign up to join Boko Haram and other violent extremist groups.
“We must understand that terrorism is essentially a psychological warfare and as such is psychologically sophisticated and we must educate the youth through the leadership of our faith that neither Islam nor any other religion that we know endorses the slaughter of anyone.
Continuing Buhari said, “In the past few years our nation faced the threat of terrorism characterized by mindless killing of our people including children.
“The massacre of the Buni Yadi boys in their hostels’ at night; the bombing of churches, mosque and market places, the kidnap of the Chibok girls and many others. The sheer recklessness of the killings, the shootings and the executions were meant to terrorize and produce maximum fear.
“To further establish the reign of terror in the territory and the terrorists hoisted their terror flags in almost 27 local governments in the north east.
“Sadly because of the disgraceful deed and the wickedness of some in governance and some in high office in the armed forces at the time, funds meant to equip soldiers to continue the fight against terror was embezzled.
“The incredible selfishness caused the nation thousands of lives, extended the reign of terror and strengthened the enemy.
“Since May 29, 2015, we have committed ourselves as a government to the absolute defeat of the terrorists and to quicken and emboldened the morale of our armed forces. But like evil, the vestiges of the activities and the warped ideologies still linger.
“Through personal contacts, social media, capture, and intimidation, men, women and even children are induced, persuaded or forced to engage in acts of terrorism.
“We must work hard to provide opportunity to educate these young men and women who for years have lacked education and the mere chance of doing well.
“Our social investment programmes are designed to create real opportunities for our young people.
“Today as many as are begin released from captivity, we are faced with serious problem of malnutrition, I have asked the Vice President to chair an inter-ministerial team to quickly review the challenges and work with our development partners and other CSOs to handle this particular problem.
“Every single Nigerian is a priority, this is why I have repeatedly ordered our law enforcement agents to ensure that the perpetrators of violence in any shape or form are arrested and made to face the law.
“The activities of armed herdsmen, kidnappers and criminal militants all threaten our security and the sovereignty of our nation. We will not allow anyone under any guise whether it is politics, culture or religion to violate the physical persons, lives or property of other citizens. This is the oath to which I swore and I will uphold it at all cost.
“Achieving success in combating terrorism is contingent on a well-articulated strategy and effective counter terrorism coordination with all stakeholders and must be devoid of inter-agency rivalry.
“In this regard, MDAs must henceforth adhere to their respective roles as stipulated in the statute and complimentary document.
“This is why a robust and counter terrorism strategy is crucial in fight against terrorism and must be constantly reviewed for relevance to contemporary challenges.
“Today, we are gathered to launch such a policy, the reviewed counter-terrorism strategy. That it is a revised strategy underscores the fact that it recognizes that terrorism has numerous ideologies; is not static and our response must be dynamic and versatile.
“I wish to confirm that this policy is fit for purpose to adequately respond to the current, eminent and future challenges.
Earlier, National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) said the revised counter terrorism strategy (NACTEST) was aimed not only at defeating terrorism but at curtailing its growth in the country.
He said, “Following the Presidential directive to review the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) for immediate implementation, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), with the active collaboration of all stakeholders convened a Working Group of Experts to re-articulate the roles of MDAs as tasked in the Strategy.
“In so doing, we were guided by the fact that the ability of a nation to effectively respond to acts of terrorism depends on its capacity to be several steps ahead of the terrorist. To do this is not as simple as it sounds.
“However, by putting in place an all-encompassing strategy and implementation plan, whilst strengthening our laws, such as the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013, we can diminish the effectiveness of the terrorist.
“We have made significant progress in our counter terrorism efforts. By virtue of Section 2, sub-section 1 (a)-(d) of the Terrorism Prevention Act, the Office of the National Security Adviser shall coordinate all security and law enforcement agencies in counterterrorism and provide them with support to prevent and combat terrorism.
“It will ensure the effective formulation and implementation of a counter terrorism strategy, build capacity and do such other acts or things that are necessary for the effective functions of the relevant security and law enforcement agencies.
“Also, By Virtue of Section 2, sub-section 2 (a)-(c), the Attorney General of the Federation shall be the authority for the effective implementation and administration of the Act and ensure that Nigeria’s counterterrorism laws and policies conform with international standards and United Nations Conventions on Terrorism, maintain international cooperation required for preventing and combating international acts of terrorism and effectively prosecute terrorism cases.
“The Act in Sub-section 3 further mandates the security and law enforcement agencies to enforce all laws and regulations to combat and prevent acts of terrorism, among others. Sub-section 3 (f) is particularly relevant to note.
“It provides for the law enforcement agencies to ‘partner with Civil Society Organizations and the Nigerian public to provide education, support, information, awareness and sensitization towards the prevention and elimination of acts of terrorism’.
“The foregoing creates the window for a whole-of-society approach that is crucial to resolving the Boko Haram, and indeed, all other violent extremist phenomena in the country.
“The National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) is the vehicle which gives life to the wordings and spirit of the Terrorism Prevention Act.
“Pursuant to the coordinating role of my office, and in line with the Presidential directive for the review, we have worked assiduously with all stakeholders to re-articulate the roles of the MDAs and Civil Society.
“The Strategy explains what organizations and individuals can do to help in its implementation in order to reduce the risks and ensure that people go about their lives freely and with confidence.
“NACTEST is organized around five streams namely; Forestall, Secure, Identify, Prepare and Implement. Each of these streams has key objectives and success indicators. To effectively ensure monitoring and evaluating success at each stage, my office has developed a benchmarking framework for the evaluation of the implementation of NACTEST.
“It has now been reviewed to include salient areas like the Nigeria Countering Violent Extremist program (Soft Approach to CT) and the Strategic Communication program, which are two very critical pillars in the fight against Terrorism and engendering sustainable peace.
“MDAs and all well-meaning Nigerians must now rise to the occasion and respond to this call for action. Relevant MDAs must begin to streamline their contributions according to their roles and responsibilities as identified in the NACTEST.
“The NACTEST Desks in MDAs have been established to drive the process so that the menace of terrorism must now be addressed from a multi – dimensional and multi – pronged and all of society approach in order to make it all encompassing.