The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Human Rights and Interfaith Religious Organizations for Peace
Summit on the Emerging Shiite extremism in a Post Boko Haram Nigeria with the theme “Building a Consensus against Extremism as a Catalyst for National Integration”
The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Human Rights and Interfaith Religious Organizations for Peace on Wednesday March 23, 2016 held a Summit on the Emerging Shiite extremism in a Post Boko Haram Nigeria with the theme “Building a Consensus against Extremism as a Catalyst for National Integration” at 3Js Hotel, Utako, Abuja.
The one day summit brought together participants from across the country to discuss the threat posed to Nigeria by cases of rising extremism.
The Guest of Honour, Dr. Udenta O. Udenta, a Former Director Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja recommended that youths must be repositioned in the post industrial society were technology and new media have the potentials of being deployed as tools for radicalization. he explained that the terror attack in Belgium (in the week of the summit) was a product of failing to deal with a festering pool of radicalization in Brussels as he warned that Nigeria must limit external influences in the orientation of the youths.
He declared that “Boko Haram is the product of failed Western intervention in Libya” where outside interference led to the unexpected and undesirable outcome that made Libya into a failed state.
After the keynote address, three sessions were presented by seasoned resource persons who tackled:
(A) Building a consensus against extremism as a catalyst for national integration (by Ayokunle FAGBEMI, the Executive Director, Center for Peacebuilding and Socio-Economic Resources Development (CePSERD) and Secretary to the CePSERD)
(B) Addressing Key National Security Challenges and the Role of Youth by Hafiz O. Oladejo, President, Socio-Community Youth Association of Nigeria (SCOYAN)
During the interactive session that followed the presentation of these papers, tagged “Religion: A Double Edged Sword” participants acknowledged that extremism remains a threat to Nigeria even as the Army has made progress in suppressing the Boko Haram terrorist group, which rose to prominence by indoctrinating youths with extremism.
The summit identified the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as the Shiite Sect as a group whose doctrine bothers on extremism that could spiral out of control if left unchecked. It recalled the December 2015 incident in Zaria, Kaduna state in which the group’s members attacked an army convoy as signs that it could one day become as brutal as Boko Haram if allowed.
The summit found that there are outside influences in the radicalization of Nigerian youths as proven by the recent series of interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs from the Iranian government through its embassy in Nigeria. It was noted that students who visit this country under the guise of studying stand a higher risk of being radicalized.
Youth unemployment was identified as a factor that predisposes them as fertile grounds for planting extremism. However, in addition to addressing unemployment, the summit identified the need for leadership and mentoring for the youths to make them citizens that can make meaningful contributions to the country.
It was further noted that the risks of radicalization of youths is further worsened by ethnic and political influences on youths who then have distorted perspective on armed struggle against the state.
The summit noted the introduction of “A Bill to Substitute the Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law, 1984”, an Executive Bill sent to the Kaduna State House of Assembly by the state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. The bill was described as desirable given the dangers posed by the rise in preaching of extremism and the need to prevent the radicalization of youths.
It was noted that there could have been better participation if more participants had attended the summit from all the states of the federation and the FCT.
At the end of its sessions, the summit recommended:
That the Federal and state governments must emphasize de-radicalization as a key step towards stopping the spread of extremism and that they should use the relevant security agencies to address groups that indoctrinate youths to become extreme.
That government must immediately take concrete steps to stop the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) from metamorphosing into Nigeria’s next terror group given the recent activities that pose existential threat to Nigeria.
That the federal government must reassess with a view to acting on its diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and any other country that supports the spread of extremism on Nigerian soil. For a start, government must immediately outlaw travel to Iran especially for those going there to study since has now been established that they are easily radicalized with extremist ideology.
That government must act immediately in view of the consensus that external influence is responsible for radicalization of Nigerian youths as recent interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs from the Iranian government through its embassy In Nigeria, and the educational background of culprits like Oguche of Boko Haram Sect who studied in Sudan, is a confirmation of that fact.
That the Nigerian Government should show interest in countries where her citizens study to avoid them being indoctrinated with extremist ideologies
That other states and the federal government should consider having their own versions of laws to regulate religious activities in view of the fact that religious extremists will seek new states to move to when they are contained elsewhere. Such law has the capacity to put an end to activities of hate preachers which have caused a lot of havoc in different parts of the country in the past.
That an expanded summit should hold to further expound on how to ensure religion is never again used to undermine the integrity of the nation.
That this communiqué should be given wide publicity including being presented the Presidency, National Assembly and the National Judicial Council that should then use policies, legislation and court pronouncement to limit foreign interference into Nigeria’s internal affairs while pushing for the outlawing of any civilian group that preaches extremism.
Obande GideonYusuf G. Mshelizza
Co-Convener North East Coalition Against Terrorism (NECAT)
Adeleke OladotunCollins Nwachukwu
Co-ConvenerCivil Awareness For Human RightsEmancipation(CAHRE)
Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi
Conference of Minority Tribes In Nigeria (COMTIN)
Source : Gist Arena