From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd), on Tuesday, gave the names of some religious groups said to be supporting terrorist organisations in the Sahel region.
Gen Monguno, who spoke at the 14th Workshop of the League of Ulamas, Preachers and Imams of Sahel countries in Abuja, listed Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM), and ISGS, as some of the religious groups have continued threaten the peace and stability of the region.
The NSA, who decried the increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that has resulted in the worsening state of food insecurity in the region, said the insecurity in the Sahel has never been grimmer as extremist violence continues to spread.
He charged ulamas, preachers and imams across the country to support the current war against insurgency activities through enlightenment and education at the grassroots level.
While noting that 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 operated in Mali and extended to the Niger Republic and Burkina Faso respectively, the NSA said that the affected countries were not relenting as several measures have been put in place.
‘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 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 northeastern part of the country,’ Monguno stated.
‘The situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer, extremist violence continues to spread; the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is growing, and food insecurity is affecting more people than ever before. There are several not entirely congruent working hypotheses underpinning foreign and regional government strategies. It is imperative to reassess and reset the strategy towards the Sahel, setting aside faulty assumptions. Particularly, the international community and its Sahelian partners should prioritize governance, press for or pursue an expanded peace process, cautiously through dialogue, and push for the adoption of more non-kinetic measures through affected communities.
‘Nonetheless, the possibility of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) creating an established caliphate to rival Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) countries has been checkmated by series of concerted and reinvigorated efforts of the countries of the Region. The adoption of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches by LCBC countries to stem the conflict has yielded tremendous success. The adoption of propaganda videos by Terrorist groups to project themselves as contending powers in the region is a mere attempt to garner support from sympathizers, 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.
‘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 grass-root level,’ the NSA stated.