As part of their joint Framework Programme for the Prevention of Violent Extremism (2020-2023) the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism ( ACSRT/CAERT) of the African Union and the Peace and Human Rights Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (PHRD/FDFA) organised the “First Senior Level Regional Course for the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in West Africa Region” at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana, in response to requests submitted by the authorities of several countries in the region. This First PVE Course for West Africa was organised with the support of the Human Security Research Centre, Ghana (HSRCGh). Nigeria was represented at the training by SOs PCVE, ONSA, Mr. Dennis Ozioko, Mrs. Justina Amakor and SO Stratcomm, ONSA, Mr. Raphael Towoju respectively.
The main objective of the Course was to promote the preventive approach as a response to growing violent extremism activities in the West Africa region. While the enforcement measures only deal with the symptoms and the consequences of the violence as well as perpetrators, the preventative measures, instead, tackle the root causes of issue by trying to understand what motivate people to join violent extremist groups and what could lead them out, and to work at transforming the multiples and complex causes of violence. The Course, therefore, seeks to stimulate thinking on this preventative approach to violent extremism and to build participants’ capacities, and encourage them to consider what could be useful in their specific national and regional context. Through the presentation of various specific tools and sharing of concrete success stories, challenges and good practices, the Course’s programme was designed to take participants through a series of modules allowing them to better grasp what the drivers of Violent Extremism are (economic, political, social, and cultural factors) and the motivations to join Violent Extremist groups.
The Course gathered, during four (4) days, more than sixty (60), including more than twenty (20) female, Decision-makers or advisors at managerial level in the areas of defence, security, intelligence services, justice, social affairs, Parliament, elected local government officials, NGOs, civil society, research centres (public and private) and public/private institutions involved in the generation of responses violent extremism from all the fifteen (15) States of West Africa. In addition, PVE Experts from the region and beyond also participated in the course to support module facilitation, including partners of the ACSRT, Experts from the HSRCGh, and from the Initiative of Regional Conversations for PVE led by PHRD/FDFA.
To further ensure free flow of information among various stakeholders and to guarantee more transparency and efficiency in the implementation of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan on Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria and Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) has launched a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Strategy on 30th June, 2022 in Abuja.
Presenting the document, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, ONSA, Rear Admiral YEM Musa (rtd) said that the M&E Strategy was a major landmark in ONSA’s collaborative efforts to counter violent extremism in Nigeria.
Rear Admiral Musa described the event as momentous, owing to the critical and holistic drive in the national efforts undertaken by ONSA to ensure an operational policy framework and national action plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
He added that the framework was critical to building a strong, national evidence base around Policy Framework and National Action Plan for PCVE implementation in Nigeria. “The document as it stands; reflects the will of the people and the Nigerian government to utilise the whole of government and whole of society approach against the threats and risks of violent extremism bedeviling the global space,” he stressed.
Musa said the document would further guide in defining the scope of activities, establish interventions when things went wrong, and give everyone an idea of how those interventions affect the rest of the activities.
Earlier in her remarks, the Head, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in ONSA, Mrs. Mairo Musa Abbas, said the activities of the unit was tied to the Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy to enable tracking and measuring of achievements of all PCVE activities in Nigeria.
Abbas said the development of the strategy, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, was supported by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) under its SARVE III Project. According to her, relevant stakeholders made inputs, while ActionAid engaged members of the Steering Committee for PCVE to develop the document.
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, represented by Mr. Andrew Mamedu, said that violence had become fatally routine and a daily affair in the country within the last few years. She called for active involvement of the private sector in the prevention of violent extremism across Nigeria to join donors in funding community led programmes that offered educational, vocational, and cultural alternatives for youths.
The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with Nigerian Financial Intelligence unit (NFIU) on 9th June 2022,organised a one-day workshop to improve the effectiveness of Nigeria’s Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and to deliberate on either the need for a stand-alone CFT strategy or the review of the existing NACTEST to include CFT Policy and Strategy.
The workshop was attended by relevant MDAs including the DSS, DIA, NCS, NIA, NSCDC, NAPTIP, EFCC-SCUML, MOJ, NIS, HQNAIC, NDLEA, NFIU, ONSA as well as the UK Department of Treasury (UKTD) and British High Commission.
As part of its periodic assessment of the Nigeria International Airports towards ensuring aviation safety and security in the country, the Office of the National Security Adviser in collaboration with the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Transport Aviation Security and other relevant stakeholders carried out an assessment of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from 16 – 19 May, 2022.
The assessment drew Participants from relevant Agencies, ranging from Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Ministry of Aviation, Department of Transport Aviation (DfT) of the British High Commission and ONSA, represented by Staff Officer, National Counter Terrorism Strategy Unit, SP Abubakar Suleiman.
The result of the assessment showed a great improvement in 2022 compared to other years, though there is room for further improvement.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Abuja, through the Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) organised a one-day Graduation ceremony for Batch 5/2021, Sulhu Batch 4/2021 and Special Batch 3/2021 clients on 12th March, 2022 at Mallam Sidi Camp, Gombe State.
Out of the 559 clients, 543 were from Borno, 5 from Adamawa, 3 from Yobe, 3 from Sokoto, 2 from Kano, 1 from Zamfara and 2 Chadians.
The aim of the event which was attended by dignitaries from the Defence Headquarters, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Gombe State Government and other Federal and States MDAs, where the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was represented by Muhammad Dauda Isah, SO PCVE, was to de-radicalize, rehabilitate and prepare the Clients for successful reintegration back to society.
The Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), held a 4-day Workshop on Strategic Communications for Disengagement, Disassociation, Reintegration and Reconciliation (DDRR) processes in the Northeast Nigeria for government officials from Tuesday 8 to Friday 11 February, 2022 in Abuja.
The strategic training workshop climaxed the Communications for Defections and Reintegration project implemented with the support of the US Department of State and the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilisation Operations (CSO) which began in August 2020. It provided an ample opportunity for participants who were drawn from Government functionaries from the Federal level in Abuja and the 3 States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, otherwise referred to as the BAY States to obtain recommendations and next steps for the dissemination of Communications Plan in DDRR and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE).
In his remarks at the Workshop, the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), represented by the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral YEM Musa recognised the need for accurate dissemination of information to Nigerians and the International community at a time the nation is witnessing a mass defection of ex- Non- State Armed Groups (NSAGs) to the society.
He stressed that the Government of Nigeria (GoN) has also noted the limits of a purely military solution to the Security challenge in the Northeast and sought to adopt a more holistic approach, granting importance to elements of strategic communications and sensitisation. He added that Priority has been given to activities intended to support the reintegration of former associates of NSAGs and to restore social cohesion at the local level. According to him, this culminated in the enactment by the President of Nigeria, the Policy Framework and the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in 2017 and also revised the country’s National Security Strategy accordingly in 2019.
In his own address, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Franz Clestine, represented by the Disengagement Disassociation Reintegration and Reconciliation (DDRR) Programme Manager, Maria Quintero noted that the project was inscribed in the framework of the DDRR Action Plan, adopted by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Ministry of Justice and the Defence Headquarter in 2017; adding that the project has a broader scope as it aimed to support the Government, and especially the Office of the National Security Adviser, in its efforts to prevent violent extremism and promote DDRR processes.
Some of the take homes from the Workshop included but not limited to the following:
i. It has further enhanced the capacities of strategic government officials to disseminate accurate information with the communities concerning DDRR and PVE policies and implementing strategic Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms for their communication strategies.
ii. The participating States and Federal MDAs were encouraged to own the Communications Plan for Defections and Reintegration project by domesticating it in their various domains.
iii. More efforts are to be put in place to improve PCVE activities in Nigeria while youths are to be encouraged to engage in more productive activities rather than engaging in Violent Extremism.
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.