FG Establishes Structure for Implementing Counterterrorism Strategy

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• No state can operates in isolation, says Ambode

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The fight against terrorism at the weekend recorded a major feat as the federal government formally established a multi-layer communication structure in Lagos State for implementing National Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With the formal structure established for implementing the counterterrorism strategy, the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, noted that no state of the federation could operate in isolation.

The structure, built upon a robust bottom-up multi-layer communication system, was unveiled at a two-day workshop held at the NECA House, Alausa.

The workshop brought together law enforcement officers from the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Armed Forces (NAF), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LASNSC) and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) among others.

But the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd) explained the reason the workshop was held in Lagos, noting that it was designed to put in place formal structure for the implementation of National Counter-Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST).

Monguno, who was represented by the Head of Counter-Terrorism Office, Mr. Steve Agbana, explained that the structure was put in place to preventively and pre-emptively respond to the challenges of extremism, terrorism and organised violence in part of the federation

He added that NACTEST “is a holistic document that spells out the roles of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), civil society organisations (CSOs) and Community-based organisations. There is no agency that can work alone to ensure security of life and property in the country.

“Why we have come to Lagos is to put the structure for implementation in place. That is the real reason we have come to Lagos to hold this national workshop. Most times, local government chairmen do not know that they are the Chief Security Officer for their local governments.”

He, therefore, described the initiative as the wake-up call, insisting that all stakeholders need “to work with the security agencies within their councils and in their state and federal. This would ensure that at all tiers of government; efforts are done to ensure security within the country.

“The structure for communication has already been established. There is a perfect communication line between the councils and the state government. It is multi-layer communication, that is, from bottom-up. Communities are critical to security of the country. We recognise the importance traditional rulers to improving security in the country.”

Also at the programme, Ambode acknowledged that no state “can operate in isolation. Whatever happens in Lagos affects other states. The issue of counter terrorism is not a one-state affair.”

Ambode, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, acknowledged the significance of the workshop, noting that such platform should be organised regularly.

He justified the need to organise the workshop regularly on the ground that all council chairman, public officeholders, security agencies “must synergise to ensure public safety in the country.”

He said every effort in the fight against terrorism, no matter how significant it may appear, “goes a long way in the overall success of counter-terrorism strategy. Besides, our economic challenges, the next challenge for our nation is the issue of security and terrorism.”

He, therefore, said all hands “must be on deck and all stakeholders must be on the page and be ready to contribute our fair share in the deal to ensure a safe and prosperous Nigeria.”

He explained that the National Counterterrorism Strategy implementation workshop in cluster states coming on the heels of the successful release of 21 Chibok girls “is a most welcome development.”

He appealed to all Nigerians and international community to support the effort of the federal government towards bringing under total control the incidences of insecurity and terrorism in our nation and West Africa.

He canvassed that the fight against terrorism “must be inclusive. While the federal government is expected to provide leadership, other levels of government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs).

“These actors must be carried along to play collaborative role in identified areas of responsibility. This is very crucial given the unconventional nature of terrorism,” he explained.

He emphasised the need for strong synergy and collaboration among security agencies in the war against terrorism and insecurity. All security apparatus must be united and determined in the knowledge that government is committed to providing all support needed to guarantee victory.

“This imperative and compelling in order to sustain the current success that have been achieved in the fight against terrorism. For us, in Lagos State, we shall continue to extend necessary logistic support to security agencies in the state. We have a vision to make our state secure for business and tourism for the prosperity of our people.”