FG Launches Action Plan to Prevent Counter Terrorism

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• Urges states, LGs to adopt policy

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

The federal government Tuesday took another step forward in its fight against terrorism as President Muhammadu Buhari launched in the State House, Abuja, a new policy framework and national action plan for the prevention and combat of terrorism in Nigeria.

The framework, which was developed by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in compliance with a presidential directive to come up with the framework and national action plan in 2015, was presented by the NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.).

Buhari, who disclosed that the framework was a product of wide consultations with relevant stakeholders within and outside Nigeria, said he had directed ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government to ensure the implementation of the framework.

He expressed appreciation to the military which he said had decimated Boko Haram through immense sacrifices as he tasked the state and local governments to come up with their own action plans on how to prevent and counter terrorism at the grassroots.

Emphasising that the government was committed to implementing the framework, the president said having launched both the framework and national action plan, concentration should now be on how to eliminate hate, misrepresentation of religion and promotion of violence in the country.

He called on civil society and international organisations to be guided by principles of the framework and action plan while directing the MDAs to put in place measures aimed at helping Nigerians to recover from the adverse effects of violence. He also commended all who had contributed to the development of the framework and action plan.

“We are committed also to implement the framework with the whole of the society approach. I have directed all the ministries, departments and agencies to institutionalise mainstreaming measures to address the root causes of violent extremism while implementing programmes that aid the resilience of our people to recover from the consequences of violence.

“We are grateful to God that through the immense sacrifices of our armed forces and other security agencies, Boko Haram has been degraded and pushed out of communities where they built sanctuaries.
“We now have to work together to focus on rooting out hate, misrepresentation of religion and violence in our society. I must also express my sincere appreciation to those individuals and institutions who contributed to the development of this policy framework and national action plan.

“I also call on state and local governments to develop the action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism at the grassroots. I likewise call on all civil society organisations and international institutions to be guided by the principle and sharing in this policy framework and national exchange plan.
“Finally, l am very pleased to launch this policy framework and national action plan and call on ministers and heads of agencies to take steps in implementing the plan,” the president stated.

In his speech, the NSA recalled that the evolvement of the framework and national action plan was the offshoot of a directive given by the president for a review of Nigeria’s countering violent extremism programme.
According to him, the review resulted in what he described as a complementary soft approach to the effort in countering terrorism on the basis of “principles of the whole of government and whole of the society approach”.

He said the framework and action plan were also the fallout of the realisation to build a policy framework that will guarantee the institutionalisation and mainstreaming on countering violent extremism across MDAs in accordance with the principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
“While we were taking this step, the then United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Banki Moon, in December of 2015, issued a call to member states to develop national plans to prevent violent extremism,” he disclosed.

According to Monguno, Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world which has developed the policy framework in accordance with UN directive which he said was showcased on the sidelines of the last United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September this year.
Monguno further reported that the move was overwhelmingly applauded in New York “during the global solution’s exchange side events where donors indicated their willingness to partner Nigeria in implementing the national action plan”.

He disclosed that the development of the framework began with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development on Nigerian stability and reconciliation programme.
The NSA said in pursuit of the national action plan and policy framework, key stakeholders were engaged through a national working group which he said consisted of some groups in the government, MDAs, civil society organisations, the media, labour, students and the academic community.

He added: “The group held several technical meetings and also visited Belfast in Northern Ireland to exchange ideas and learn from the conflict resolution initiatives for resolving the Northern Ireland crisis. We were also involved in workshops organised for preventing and countering violent extremism, the National Action Plan Task Force at the Geneva Centre to prosecute the policy where 16 countries at various stages of developing their policy framework shared experiences.

“This facilitated international validation for our draft policy framework towards understanding the root cause of violent extremism. This policy framework also benefitted from the values of research conducted for the ONSA by a team of experts on radicalisation, counter-radicalisation and deradicalisation in Nigeria. Through wide consultations, we have thus developed a policy framework that is truly people-oriented and it is tailored to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism while countering the dangerous ideologies that fuel terrorism.

“Your Excellency, this framework and national action plan rest on four major objectives which dictate our priority components. These are aimed at: A. Strengthening institutions and co-ordination in preventing and countering violent extremism. B. Strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and human rights. C. Engaging communities and building resilience and D. Integrating strategic communication in preventing and countering violent extremism.”

Monguno said following the launch of the framework, state governments should develop their own “inclusive local action plans for preventing and countering violent extremism,” promising that his office would “provide strategic, research, expertise and support to all the states in developing locally relevant strategies for preventing and countering violent extremism”.

He said while implementing the policy framework in the next three years, “Nigeria will be fulfilling the provision of Section 14 (2b and c) of the Terrorism Prevention and (Amendment) Act of 2013, the National Security Strategy of 2014 and National Counter-strategy of 2015,” adding that “the policy framework also satisfies several United Nations resolutions such as numbers 2178 of 2014, 2199 of 2015, 2250 of 2015 and 2349 of 2017 all of which are relevant to threat of terrorism.”