*Continued from pt 1
Nigeria Urgently Needs A Coherent Counter-Terrorism Strategy/Policy
Rather than our typical haphazard approach, it is high time Nigeria articulated a coherent and unified strategy towards countering terrorism and insurgency. We cannot continue doing the same thing, the same way over and over again and expect a different result.
The United Nations Counterterrorism Committee advocates countries to have comprehensive national strategies that include countering incitement motivated by extremism and intolerance. In the same vein, the United Nations Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (UN-CTITF) also recommends promotion of public-private partnerships. It posits that developing partnerships with the private sector especially where State resources are limited.
Sequel to the complexity of the Security situation in Nigeria with a mix of economic, political and social strife, the United Nations Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTIF) accentuates the importance of strategy and a collective effort to counter terrorism.
Underscoring the importance of Strategy to America’s war on terror President Obama was quoted as saying, ‘’unless we are committed to a better strategy, America may be drawn into more wars she does not need to fight’’.
Strategy and Policy are synonymous. A Strategy or a Policy is a template that stipulates an elaborate and systematic plan of action to be adopted by an individual, group/organization or a country in an eventuality whereas a law is a collection of rules imposed by an authority or a country. A lot of people argue that Nigeria has a terrorism or anti-terrorism law already; you can see from the two basic definitions that they are two different things. A Strategy/Policy is skewed towards proactiveness and prevention while a law is mostly punitive or reactionary. A well-defined framework, policy and strategy have the potency to tilt the balance in a war situation, conflict resolution or negotiation. A Strategy/Policy and a relevant law will mesh and yield a coveted outcome. Let’s have a template-a policy/strategy that foresees and prescribes solutions to problems before they even arise. Nigeria is also in dire need of a sweeping National Security Reform that embraces and emphasizes on human capital development and state-of-the-art infrastructure. An avid global trend follower will concur that cyber warfare/terrorism is the in-thing now. Cyber warfare/terrorism transcends national borders and boundaries. Juxtaposing ourselves in the position of the bad guys, our Security Agencies and government think-tanks must brainstorm on worst-case scenarios and have answers to them. Since it has become a fad for terrorists and insurgents to target schools, churches and other public institutions, it goes without saying that security-conscious establishments, schools, places of worship etc in Nigeria must be proactive, carry out sporadic ‘’Extensive Vulnerability/Resilience Analysis and Security Audit’’ of their domain and take appropriate steps to secure themselves. Nigeria must put in place a programme for Critical infrastructure protection. Let us do away with our fire-brigade approach and mentality. Every thoughtful and security-minded country or individual, hopes for the best but prepares for the worst. A wise saying goes, after a battle, sharpen your sword.
Sequel to Nigeria’s active membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Nigeria must do everything possible to stifle terrorists of funding by vigorously carrying out inquiries, freezing assets, impeding suspicious money transfers and money laundering. A programme must also be put in place to adequately compensate victims of terrorism and their families.
Model Counter Terrorism Strategies/Policies
Though the context may be different but Nigeria can glean nuggets of information and model its counter terrorism strategy after the following countries that have a well-thought out Strategy and Policy for combating terrorism.
The United States of America: An average American will not mince words in telling you that that the US does not negotiate with terrorists. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States set up the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and embarked on wide-ranging reforms. They effectively restructured their terrorism/counter-terrorism Strategy/Policy. It is now biased towards deterrence and taking the battle to the door steps of the enemy, keeping them busy in their own soil.
The leading framework of deterrence policy of the United States is encapsulated in the Patriot Act. It specifies assignments to specific agencies- the FEMA has the responsibility of developing an overall federal response. Other sister agencies like the DCI counter-terrorist centre, the CIA and the FBI have varied roles.
The United Kingdom: The United Kingdom redoubled its domestic counterterrorism strategy after the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 by Libyan terrorists in December 1988. Recall the UK battled the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for several years. The United Kingdom also has an alert system that indicates and warns its citizens when a terrorist incident is likely, critical heightened and so on. This effectively sensitizes the citizenry and makes them conscious of goings-on around them and to report suspicious activities/individuals around them.
The United Kingdom’s Counter terrorism strategy encompasses 4P’s: (a) PURSUE, aimed at nipping terrorist attacks in the bud (b) PREVENT, aimed at stopping people becoming terrorists or aiding terrorism (c) PROTECT, aimed at strengthening protection against a terrorist attack and (d) PREPARE which aims to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.
Israel’s Counterterrorism Policy: Israel ranks high in the ladder of countries with massive experience with counter-terrorism measures. Due to hostility from its Arab neighbors, the State of Israel enacted the ‘Prevention of terrorism Ordinance in 1948. Like the United States, Israel has a zero-tolerance Policy in negotiating with terrorists. Israel’s CT strategy also relies on extensive intelligence-gathering, technological sophistication and very swift preemptive and retaliatory strikes. They demonstrated this in June 1976 when a group of Palestinian and German terrorists abducted an Air France Plane and held its passengers hostage at Entebbe, Uganda.
Canada’s Counter terrorism strategy is tagged- ‘’Building Resilience Against Terrorism’’. It reflects the ongoing and multi-faceted activities of government department and agencies involved in Counter terrorism.
Issues the Proposed National Conference Must Resolve
Nigerians yearn for good governance and a no-holds-barred restructuring of the Nigerian State. We want a Nigeria that is SAFE, PEACEFUL and where ALL her citizens irrespective of their ethnic and religious background, have a sense of belonging. We want a Nigeria where JUSTICE and EQUITY reigns supreme; a Nigeria that has a zero-tolerance for CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM and TRIBAL JINGOISM. We want a Nigeria where merit is not sacrificed in the altar of mediocrity and godfatherism. We want a Nigeria where some privileged folks are not above the law.
The proposed National Conference/Dialogue must not be another gala affair. It is a unique opportunity for a no-holds-barred discussion, reflection on the challenges of nation-building. Salient issues that led to the 1967-1970 Civil War in Nigeria remain up in the air. The Conference must propose alternatives to the following factors considered harbingers of instability and insecurity in Nigeria: The unprecedented concentration of political power at the centre, the consequent quest for it and the unparalleled financial reward accruable to political office holders in Nigeria. State and National Assembly members and other political office holders in Nigeria should work on part-time basis. Strengthening our weak judicial system, stamping out injustice, nepotism and a culture of impunity’’, ‘’replacing State of origin syndrome with state of residence’’, the later is the root of the imbroglio in Jos and some other parts of Nigeria. For instance the Hausa/Fulani tribes in Jos are still seen as strangers even though some of them, their Parents, grand and great-grand parents were born in Jos and have no other place as home. All the aforementioned factors are intertwined; the sporadic interplay of them impinges an unpredictable butterfly effect on the Stability and Security of Nigeria.
It is my considered opinion that a political system skewed towards regionalism, true federalism will take care of the constant bickering for power shift in Nigeria. Perhaps we can borrow a leaf from the United Kingdom’s Principle/System of ‘DEVOLUTION’ which ascribes some level of autonomy to the constituent units giving rise to a Welsh Assembly, Welsh Police, Scottish Parliament, Scottish Police, Scottish Health Service etc.
Establishing an Efficient Intelligence Gathering Network
Experience shows that a potpourri of proactive intelligence surveillance/gathering is a viable tool that can forestall terrorism/insurgency. The civilian populace needs to be carried along if the terrorism/insurgency must be stemmed. An Igbo proverb opines ‘’it is of no use brining out your kegs to fetch water after the rain must have stopped’’.
It beggars belief that with the war-chest in their disposal and all the purported arrests, prosecution of suspected Boko Haram members, Nigeria’s Security Agencies seem to have failed in extracting credible information that will enable them infiltrate and decimate the ranks, chain of command of this Sect.
Encouraging Cooperation, Coordination and Inter-Agency Synergy
There is need for a coordinated response to terrorism/insurgency in Nigeria and across the West African sub-region. The recent Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, may be a harbinger of things to come. Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the State Security Service (SSS), the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the Police, Customs, Immigration etc must dissuade inter-agency rivalry and work together for a common good. There is need for active and seamless information sharing and harnessing the capabilities of the various security agencies in Nigeria. The statement credited to Major General Sarki Bello, the Counter Terrorism Coordinator in the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the effect that, ‘’it will be an understatement to describe the previous state of relationships among our security agencies as chaotic will be an understatement’’ calls for serious soul-searching.
Novel Technologies To Combat Insecurity & Terrorism
There is no amount of money spent on Security that can be said to be too much because without adequate security, human activity-business, governance, education etc cannot thrive. However, there must be good outcomes when huge investments are expended in Security. Of particular interest is the need to adequately patrol our extensive porous land, sea borders to forestall spin-off from events in countries like Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Central African Republic, D.R Congo etc. Analysts believe the growing sophistication and audacity of Boko Haram suggests they have links with foreign terrorist networks like Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al-Shabaab. Some schools of thought strongly believe there is a nexus between insecurity, terrorism and corruption. According to Diane Kohn, the anti-crime Program Coordinator at the US Embassy in Nigeria, ‘’Corruption is affecting Nigeria’s security’’. There is free-flow of arms, explosives and all manner of contraband into Nigeria due to corruption and lack of proper inspection at our Ports, land borders and airports.
A while ago, Nigeria’s Dailies reported that ‘’Immigration uncovered 1,487 illegal entry routes to Nigeria’’. This is probably a conservative guesstimate. I think we have the resources to deploy Unattended Land/Ground Sensors, a state-of-the-art gadget that provides enhanced protection for Border Security, Infrastructure and Force protection. I chuckle each time I hear that illegal immigrants from Chad, Niger etc in Nigeria have been arrested and deported. Unless the Nigerian Immigration implanted RFID Chips on deported illegal immigrants found in Nigeria otherwise deporting them is not the solution as they will swiftly return to Nigeria sooner than later if they so wish through any of the illegal entry points. Other high-tech gadgets that will also aid the fight insecurity, terrorism/insurgency include: Use of extremely selective, sensitive Explosive Detectors that must be able to sniff out trace amounts and distinguish a real explosive from the ‘’noise’’ of other compounds, Automatic Number Plate Recognition System, an encompassing National Database & Fingerprint of Convicted Criminals, Wired/Wireless and Internet Protocol Networked CCTV Cameras, Use of Satellite-Based Technology in Security-monitoring Crude Oil Pipelines, critical national infrastructures and our extensive borders.
It is not enough for the National Assembly to pass a law criminalizing acts of terrorism and apportioning punishments/penalties. The prospect of a punishment does not necessarily deter an individual or a group hell-bent on breaking the law.
A well-thought out Counterterrorism Strategy/Policy is a sine qua non if Nigeria must win the war on terror. Rather than an entrenched proclivity for setting up chit chat Committees/Panels, it is high time Nigeria unveiled a definite Counter terrorism Strategy/Policy which will define inter alia, whether or not Nigeria shall negotiate with terrorists/insurgents; whether or not terrorists/insurgents shall be rewarded with an amnesty. The National Counter terrorism Strategy/Policy will also appropriate clear-cut roles to the various arms of the Security agencies and response should incidents arise.
Envision the social transformation that will take place if the
‘Security Vote’ and the so-called ‘Constituency Allowance’ accruable to all 36
State governors and members of the National Assembly respectively are
judiciously utilized and channeled into truly uplifting Nigerians. Deepening democracy, economic prosperity, education,
research and good governance will go a long way in tackling radicalization,
terrorism/insurgency and instability’’.
Peace is a sine qua non for development. No country or individual will actualize its/his potentials in a miasma of insecurity and unpredictability. Please let’s give peace a chance. Nigerians Unite Against Insecurity and Terrorism. See it, hear it, say it, stop it!!!
God bless Nigeria and Nigerians!
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