Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.) National Security Adviser, has expressed worry over the increasing number of youths in the country joining armed groups.
He noted that the scourge must be discouraged while efforts are being made to de-radicalise those already armed.
Monguno, who was represented by the National Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Admiral Yem Musa (retd.), spoke at a workshop on amnesty management, de-radicalisation, and community-based reintegration in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said, “Just as it is common to many nations of the world, Nigeria faces security challenges at different levels of intensity across the six geo-political zones.
“The scale at which youths are joining armed groups is alarming; measures to deal with this trend, therefore, need to focus on preventing radicalisation among young people and transforming those who have taken up arms into normal civilians.”
He also warned that amnesty repeatedly granted by the government at different levels to armed groups could be counter-productive in the absence of an established policy.
He said, “As you may be aware, the concept and practice of amnesty are not new in Nigeria. The Federal Government and several states have repeatedly granted amnesties.
“However, this can become counter-productive to national security in the absence of established policy/legislation, national ownership, and a coordination mechanism. In the absence of an amnesty law, ad-hoc declarations have become the main vehicle. This is a gap that this workshop aims to initiate and fill.”
Speaking, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, noted that while amnesty and voluntary DDR processes are essential components of successful conflict resolution, impunity should not be encouraged.
She advocated for some form of justice for members of armed groups who would not undergo criminal prosecution.
She said, “International law makes it clear that there can be no impunity for crimes against humanity. These approaches must therefore be complemented by robust, timely, and fair criminal judicial procedures for those who have committed grave crimes. “
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