In recognition of the imperatives of addressing critical issues of communication around anti-kidnap efforts of the Government of Nigeria, the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), in Collaboration with the British High Commission, held a Multi-Agency Fusion Cell Media and Communication Workshop from13 to 14 September, 2023, in Abuja.
The National Coordinator, NCTC, Rear Admiral YEM MUsa (rtd), while addressing the gathering, noted that the workshop was pertinent to the success of the government’s effort to curtail the menace of kidnapping, stressing that the media would help to build the kind of relationship the NCTC-ONSA desired on the efforts of security agencies in the protection of lives and property in the country.
“In an increasingly interconnected world, where information spreads at an unprecedented pace, the media has the power to either amplify or mitigate the impact of security-related news events. The consequences of inaccurate or sensational reporting can be detrimental to public trust, exacerbate fear and anxiety, and even hinder counter-terrorism efforts,” he said.
Rear Admiral Musa who identified kidnapping for ransom as one of the means of funding terrorism, stressed that “carnage unleashed by kidnappers in affiliation with terrorist groups all over the world leading to loss and disruption of lives and property, is a major concern, hence the need for collective efforts in advancing measures to check the threat.”
He said it is imperative for the government and the media to collaborate in order to establish a framework of synergy and standardisation for reporting on security related matters, expressing hope that such collaboration would not only enhance the accuracy and quality of news reporting, but also contribute to national security.
In his remarks, the Programme Manager, National Crime Agency UK, Mr. Chris Grimson, said the workshop was a fall out of a number of agreements between Nigeria and the UK to create a multi-agency kidnap fusion cell, adding that the purpose of the workshop was to identity and explore what was needed to create the fusion cell.
On his own part, one of the facilitators af the workshop, Rear Admiral Leye Jaiyeola (rtd), said the fusion cell workshop was designed to come up with a joint decision model to allow for an effective multi-agency use and conflict resolution.
He added that kidnapping had become a major threat in Nigeria, hence the need to develop an agreed national kidnap fusion and coordination mechanism.
“Our focus is to make sure that we maintain a strategic national kidnap operation posture, get all the agencies involved in doing it, so that we will be able to put our feet at the right spot and come up with a set of principles so that the commanders will be able to deliver, “Jaiye-ola remarked.
He posited that “we have looked at coming up with standard operating procedure, looked at developing the doctrine itself and this session of workshop is the session that involves relating with the public so that they will build trust and confidence in the security.
Participants at the workshop were made up of Strategic Communications/Spokespersons from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government and Media representatives.