The Presidential Initiative for the North East for 2015-2020 has established a presidential intervention plan to provide emergency assistance and mobilize targeted resources to jump-start the economy of the North- Eastern States of Nigeria ravaged by Boko Haram terrorists.
In the midst of these economic interventions, the country is faced with the need to strengthen coordination of efforts, implement already established policies, build capacity and deliver livelihood to victims of terrorism.
The Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Commodore YEM Musa said this a the opening of a two-day High-Level Inter-Agency Conference on Strengthening Investigation and Persecution of Terrorism Offences in the North East, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Monday.
The theme of the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project II is “Assisting Nigeria to Strengthen Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism”
Speaking on behalf of the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Mongunu (rtd), the Coordinator said the conference is coming at a very appropriate time as the nation is poised to mainstream and strengthen Nigeria’s implementation of the Policy framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism which was endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari on 24th of August 2017 and launched on the 28 November 2017.
On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Office of the National Security Adviser, he appreciated efforts of the partners (The European Union, United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in addressing the unfortunate challenges imposed on the nation and global community by violent extremist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria.
He said the partners have been working with the Nigerian Government to address the growing number of complex terrorism cases in the country. This has been through capacity building assistance aimed at supporting Nigeria’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law-based criminal justice response to terrorism.
Their activities and involvement, he said, has included the provision of training for investigators, prosecutors, legal advisors, defence counsels and judges under the Nigerian-EU-UNODC-CTED Partnership on strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism. He said “this partnership assistance fits directly to component two of the PCVE Framework which is Strengthening the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human rights approaches.
“The office of the National Security Adviser also wishes to appreciate the Defense headquarters, the Nigeria Police and other security Agencies ; the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary ( Federal High Court, Federal Court of Appeal), Ministry of Budget and National Planning for providing invaluable contribution by way of technical insights in the period leading to the Conference. In partnership with the Office of the national security Adviser, these entities will play a major role over the next few years in achieving the strategic objectives set out in Nigeria’s PCVE Policy and Action Plan”.
He said the Conference will further provide stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss and agree on specific activities, which hopefully should contribute to achieving the following objectives as set out in Nigeria’s Policy Framework and National Action plan for PCVE.
“These key objectives are to: Institutionalize, mainstream and coordinate PCVE programmes at national, state and local levels; Strengthen accessible justice system and respect for human rights and rule of law; enhance capacity of individuals/communities to prevent and counter violent extremism and recover from violent occurrences; and finally ,institutionalize, mainstream and integrate strategic communication in PCVE programmes at all levels.
“We can achieve this if coordinated actions are established and implemented with the expertise of all agencies. A whole of Government and Whole of Society approaches as mentioned in the PCVE Policy is crucial for the accomplishment of the Government mandate to ensure peace, welfare and economic growth for all Nigerians. As a nation, we are partnering to ensure safer and resilient communities for the benefit of our citizens and humanity
This conference has the specific purpose of supporting Nigeria to bring terrorists to justice and prevent terrorist acts from being committed, through the rule of law-based and human rights – complaint criminal justice measures against terrorism.
“Therefore, relying on the report of the needs analysis that has been conducted and leveraging on the Strategic Implementation Matrix provided in the Policy Framework for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE), we expect from the discussions and outcome of the Conference a coherent activity plan with timelines and indicators to determine how we move forward. We encourage discussions around the recommendations of the Joint Operational Planning Visit to the NE in September”.
The two days deliberations, he added, comes at a point Nigeria is focused on recovery in the North East following the degrading of the Boko Haram terrorist Group by our Armed Forces.
“ We have recovered communities and pushed back the insurgents to the point of surrender. As part of our multidimensional approaches, we have set up a Safe Corridor for those defectors who wish to leave the Boko Haram group. We do this in compliance with Nigerian Law, committed to respecting the rights of victims and bringing perpetrators to justice. Although a slow process, Nigeria is moving closer to full recovery from violence”, he enthused.
Speaking on behalf of the donor of the project, the European Union, Mr. Richard Young said it is the hope of the EU that Nigeria will comply with international criminal court procedures and regulations in the handling of investigations and prosecution of identified terrorist while executing the ongoing insurgency in Northeast Nigeria,
He urged active players in the Nigerian judicial system as well as the military hierarchy to ensure that persecutors of the state especially Boko Haram insurgents have justice by giving way for due process in the arrest, investigation, prosecution, and sentencing of actors of the insurgency.
Mr. Young also called for a careful consideration of the vulnerable groups such as women and children in the fight against the insurgency.
He expressed happiness that the Nigerian government is taking the prosecution of the insurgency war with caution and every seriousness, while he promised further cooperation and collaboration of the European Union with the Nigerian government in ending insurgency in the country.