Experts want government to adopt human-centered approach to curb terrorism

Security and conflict resolution experts have called on the Nigerian government and other West African countries to urgently adopt a human-centered approach to combating terrorism, rather than relying solely on the conventional military strategies.

The call was made in Abuja during a policy dialogue on West African democracy, organized by the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought with theme:”Appraising the success of counter-terrorism measures in the defence of democracy in West Africa”.

The experts emphasized the need for a paradigm shift, advocating for more proactive and effective measures to address terrorism-related issues.

Managing Director of Beacon Security and Intelligence Limited, Kabir Adamu, highlighted the necessity for a comprehensive approach to the security challenges in West Africa, particularly in the Sahel region and Nigeria.

Adamu expressed concern over the persistent insecurity plaguing Nigeria and the entire Sahel region due to the criminal activities of various terrorist organizations, which have resulted in significant human costs.

He criticized the governments in the West African region for their failure to provide good governance to their citizens, identifying this as a major factor contributing to the rise of terrorism.

He expressed concern over the conflicts in neighboring countries, stating, “Our security operatives do not understand the consequences of what is happening in Sudan and its impact on Nigeria. Currently, the proliferation of arms is increasing, and alarmingly, this is the only commodity whose price is declining rapidly.”

“The fuel that sustains terrorism is influence; once that influence is removed, we can gradually eradicate terrorism. However, as long as the influence remains, terrorism will continue to grow.”

“We need to leverage existing systems to counter terrorism, such as the early warning system. I rarely hear about the alerts raised by this system. It’s high time we began to appreciate these mechanisms and work to improve our society.”

The Convener of the Geo-politics Series and Chief Executive Officer of Global Sentinel, Senator Ireogbu, disclosed the staggering cost of violence and insecurity, estimated at about $19.1 trillion.

Ireogbu, while outlining the inefficiency of the Nigerian Army, noted the evolving nature of terrorism. He pointed out that the Nigerian military is designed for conventional warfare and is not trained for conflicts like terrorism, which explains its inability to effectively counter terrorist activities.

He stated, “The security architecture is not sophisticated enough to manage the complexities of terrorism.”

“The connection between security and development is fundamental to the collective efforts to foster sustainable peace and prosperity. Terrorism is a non-traditional security challenge.”

“There can be no development with insecurity. Insecurity stalls development, preventing citizens from leading functional lives. This undermines democracy, as citizens lose confidence in the government, potentially driving many into criminal activities.”

He continued, “There is trouble in the Sahel, which is why Nigeria should be concerned. Previously, acts of terrorism seemed distant, but now the Sahel region is the global epicenter of terrorism, with Burkina Faso as the most terrorized country, followed by Mali and Israel. These countries are geographically close to Nigeria.”

“Nigeria needs to go beyond merely deploying the military and adapt to the current tactics used by terrorist groups to effectively combat this menace.”

Auplanle Fagbemi, Executive Director of the Center for Peacebuilding and Socio-economic Research Development, revealed that there have been attempts by terrorists to establish a caliphate, which many fail to immediately recognize.

Fagbemi expressed sadness over the plight of the abducted Chibok and Dapchi girls, saying, “It is very painful that each time we discuss the Chibok and Dapchi abductions, we are reminded of the legal framework that makes it illegal to have carnal knowledge of a minor.”

“It is becoming a norm that minors return from their kidnappers with babies. Painfully, these children of such abductions will be mentally and psychologically disturbed and should not be blamed when they begin to exhibit their trauma in the future,” he said.