The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno(rtd), yesterday named some Islamic groups supporting terrorist organisations in the Sahel region.
Monguno, who spoke at the 14th Workshop of the League of Ulamas, Preachers and Imams of Sahel countries in Abuja, said terrorism and the rapid escalation of violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel since 2016 have been primarily driven by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which mainly operates in Mali and extends to the Niger Republic and Burkina Faso.
“It is bolstered by activities of groups such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM), and ISGS, which have continued to pose an imminent threat to the stability of the region. In Nigeria, Boko-Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) dominate terrorist activities, especially in the North-Eastern part of the country,” he added.
According to the NSA, the situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer as extremist violence continues to spread with the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) rising and increasing rate of food insecurity.
He said there is a need to reassess and reset foreign and regional government strategies towards the Sahel and set aside faulty assumptions.
Monguno asked the international community and its Sahelian partners to prioritise governance, cautiously pursue an expanded peace process through dialogue, and push for the adoption of more non-kinetic measures through affected communities.
He, however, stated that the possibility of ISWAP creating an established caliphate to rival Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) countries has been checkmated by a series of concerted and reinvigorated efforts of the countries of the region.
According to the NSA, the adoption of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches by LCBC countries to stem the conflict has yielded tremendous success.
He also described the adoption of propaganda videos by terrorist groups to project themselves as contending powers in the region as a mere attempt to garner support from sympathisers, as they struggle to maintain relevance.
“Thus, it is assessed that while the groups maintain the long-term strategic goal of creating a caliphate, the efforts of LCBC countries will continue to frustrate that goal,” Monguno avowed.
“In that regard, it is imperative that ulamas, preachers, and community leaders in your localities key in to support efforts of our security forces, in order to end this menace.
“Just as collaborations between governments are boosting the advance of security forces in the fight against terrorism, alliances and group efforts like LOPIS should be the backbone to rebuilding our terrorism-infested communities. There’s no gun more powerful than enlightenment and education at the grassroots level.
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