In response to the challenges of Terrorism that Nigeria faces, the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended in 2013 was signed into law. The Act designates the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the Coordinating Office for Nigeria’s Counter terrorism efforts. The Act also gives ONSA the mandates to “ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive Counter Terrorism Strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services.” In line with the foregoing, the Counter Terrorism Centre (CTC) was established in 2012, and is located in the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The Counter Terrorism Centre (CTC) which is headed by a Coordinator, has pioneered key initiatives since 2012. These include, providing leadership, coordination and strategic guidance to security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The Centre’s relationships with relevant partners transcend State Actors, to include donor agencies, Counter Terrorism platforms like the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, Hedayah ( based in Abu Dhabi) and the United Nations.

Following the unveiling of the National Counter Terrorism Strategy Document (NACTEST) and the ongoing National PCVE Program in the country, the role of the Centre has been tremendously appreciated as a value-adding entity among its strategic partners. This growing profile has meant increased interest in the activities of the Centre, both home and abroad.

The Counter Terrorism Centre is staffed by experienced officers from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. It houses the Joint Terrorism Analysis Branch, National Counter Terrorism Strategy, Explosive Devices Analysis Office and the Preventing Countering Violent Extremism Unit which coordinates the implementation of Nigeria’s Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.

National Counter-terrorism Strategy (NACTEST)

NACTEST was the result of considerable research from the departments of the Counter-terrorism Department, in consultation with international experts, security practitioners and academics. The outcome is a robust national strategy that combines the hard military approach, intelligence gathering and use of force, with a soft approach, which aims to win hearts and minds and address the root causes of radicalization within Nigerian communities.

NACTEST is based on five pillars:

  • Forestall: prevention by engaging the public through sustained sensitization campaigns and de-radicalization programmes.

  • Secure: ensuring the protection of life and property, key national infrastructure and services including national interests worldwide.

  • Identify: investigating and bringing violent extremist offenders to justice.

  • Prepare: adequately preparing the populace in order to mitigate the consequences of terrorist incidents.

  • Implement: devising a framework to effectively mobilize and sustain a coordinated cross-governmental population-centred effort.

Through this broad-based strategy we believe that we can limit the multitude of pathways that can lead individuals to being radicalized and prevent terrorist attacks from happening in the first place.

In order to ensure effective implementation the strategy is based on certain fundamental principles. The progress of interventions is being regularly assessed and the Office of the National Security Adviser is striving to be as transparent as we possibly can be, while being mindful of security threats. The office is committed to being flexible, collaborative and proactive in its responses to terrorism.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programme

While the hard approach has achieved appreciable results, the Office of the National Security Adviser realizes that force alone will not be enough to combat radical elements in our country. A multi-faceted approach is required to counter the threat of violent extremism. Nigeria’s CVE Programme represents a new approach to countering such threats.

The programme aims to:

  • Stem the tide of radicalization
  • Reduce the incidence of violent activities
  • Change the behaviour of violent extremists
  • Counter the narratives of extremist groups
  • Promote core national values

In the short and medium term we are working to reduce the number of people joining extremist groups; in the long term we hope to transform Nigerian society, preventing similar threats from ever rising again. Boko Haram is currently our most pressing challenge but the CVE Programme is being developed as a tool that can be repurposed for flashpoints across the country.

Nigeria’s CVE Programme is based on three streams:

  • Counter Radicalization: focuses on community engagement, economic and education-based projects. Positioned to stem the flow of recruits and reduce the potential for radicalization.
  • De-radicalization: aims to rehabilitate and reintegrate extremists and their families back into society through a number of activities, including prison interventions and vocational training.
  • Strategic Communication: seeks to produce counter-narratives, presenting moderate views as a stark contrast to violent extremism and promoting core national values.


Building the capacity of government institutions is also crucial to the success of the CVE Programme. Individuals from over 20 government agencies have been trained in strategic communication and messaging desks have been set up and tasked with producing narratives the counter extremist ideology and promote peace. This capacity is also being developed within the armed forces, in order to maintain morale and calm the populace at large in the wake of incidents.

Psychologists, therapists, vocational counsellors and prison staff have been trained in this regard in order to ensure proper management of violent extremist offenders within prisons. With the supervision of a multi-disciplinary team, which is implementing and monitoring our prison-based de-radicalization programme, we are already well underway in attempting to rehabilitate hundreds of violent extremist offenders.