Friday 21 September 2012

Boko Haram: Is Nigerian Government winning the war on terror?

Col. Sambo Dasuki (rted), NSA
The Nigerian Security Joint Task Force on Wednesday claims it captured the operational base of the Boko Haram in the Kano City of Nigeria. The JTF also killed one of the influential members of the sect suspected to be its spokesperson with the name Abu Qaeda. Of course, these are remarkable achievements and deserve commendation.
Although, there cannot be clean victory in the war against terrorism but the government can mitigate if there is consistency in counterterrorism policy with long term strategy that is dynamic in approach to tackle the incidence of terrorism in Nigeria.

The recent attack against the sect's operational base will go a long way in reducing the terrorists’ activities in the northern part of Nigeria. There is no doubt in the fact that the JTF assault on the sect’s active base will definitely weaken their organizational capacity to launch future attacks on the innocent citizens.

The JTF should continue and ensure they locate and destroy all Boko Haram’s operational and command centers in Nigeria. The government should also locate their sponsors and active sympathizers for arrest and prosecution under the new anti-terrorism law. The Nigerian Judiciary must rise up to the occasion by complimenting the effort of the security agencies. It is disheartening to see how those who have been arrested and charged to court with credible evidences have been released from time to time without punishments commensurate to their deed.

Since his appointment as the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rted) has consolidated on the existing “carrot and stick” strategy with much emphasis on diplomacy, intelligence gathering and quality intelligence analysis for operational tactics. The product of this approach gives timely interventions that prompted the arrest of the influential cadres and enable the JTF to locate the Boko Haram’s operational center in Kano. The ability of the NSA to coordinate all the Nigerian security agencies to be working together as a team thus reduces the traditional rivalry between them is a major milestone achievement.

In addition, the positive effect and the product of the NSA’s conciliatory approach, involving dialogue with the sect has been noticeable with a reduction in the incidence of terrorist attacks. At least, there are no more incidences of every Sunday calamity and suicide attacks against Churches in Nigeria in a recent time. Even though, the core hardliners and criminal Boko Haram gangs never bought the idea of dialogue but the idea is yielding results while the group who refuses the dialogue offer are already meeting their Waterloo.

Although, the challenges are enormous with a fewer men and little resources; however, it is possible to overcome those encounters with determination and strong political will on the part of the government. 

Furthermore, the government must try to consolidate on this gain by reducing all those things that breed terrorism in the society. While the military, law enforcement in collaboration with the intelligence community are doing their best to clear the mess they never created; the policy makers should understand that the only way out to win the war is to reduce poverty, create employment opportunities for young people, reform the Nigerian justice system and deepen the countries democratic values.

Finally, a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy must be centered on four goals: First, stop terrorists from committing acts of violence by capturing them, disrupting their cells, or if necessary, killing them. Second, keep the most dangerous weapons out of terrorists' hands. Third, recognizing it is impossible to prevent all attacks.  Fourth, prevent radicalization by helping to deal with grievances that are spawning terrorists.
Therefore, the government cannot achieve all these with the only use of force but through a comprehensive approach deeply rooted in good governance.

Oludare Ogunlana is a counterterrorism expert and president of the Global Alternative Agenda


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