In what it described as a soft approach to Nigeria’s terrorism challenge, the federal government is set to partner with civil society organisations to deliver a community based aftercare program that will aid the rehabilitation and reintegration of former extremists.
The National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, disclosed this when he addressed the Economic and Social Council, ECOSOG, of the United Nations in New York on Monday.
Dasuki, while reeling out non-military approaches which the Nigerian government plans to explore in curbing terrorism in the country, said the strategy will involve actors, within and out of government, civil society as well as religious institutions.
He said within the last two years, Nigeria had developed a National Countering Violent Extremism, CVE Program which seeks to raise awareness of the threat of extremism as well as shape policy and programming.
“While we have studied different CVE models around the globe we understood that we had to answer tough questions that are specific to our particular situation in countering violent extremism and it is with this in mind that we developed what we believe is a four pronged approach that encompasses peace, security and development,” the security adviser said.
Dasuki said rather than creating new structures that will not be sustainable in the long run, the program utilizes existing structures within and outside government to deliver targeted programs and activities that further the overall goal of stemming the tide of radicalization country.
The de-radicalization program involves the training of a new generation of practitioners in the areas of forensic psychology, religious instruction with particular emphasis on extremist narratives, art therapists, social workers and vocational and educational counselors.
In addition, he said the Nigerian government is refurbishing a number of prisons that are being configured specifically for this program.
“We have identified and are training a multi-disciplinary prison based treatment team to manage terror suspects. This team is responsible for developing curriculum and training in religious education, cognitive behavior therapy, anger management, relapse prevention, empathy, risk management and risk assessment,” he said.
Under its strategic communications approach, Dasuki said the press would be engaged to ensure that reporting of terrorists’ activities are done responsibly.
“A voluntary code of conduct on reporting national security issues is being developed that will regulate crisis reporting especially with regard to terrorism. Furthermore, we are creating a rapid response media team that will promptly address extremist messages in print or electronic media,” he said.
He added that in order to further understanding of Boko Haram, the federal government has commissioned a documentary on Boko Haram and research on the pathways to radicalization.