By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Terrorism as a political lexicon defined by the WRITERS of Encyclopaedia Britannica as the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. The term was first coined in the 1790s to refer to the TERROR used during the French Revolution by the Revolutionaries against their opponents. TERRORISM as a term is a thing of terror to scholars since there is no unanimity among them on what exactly constitutes universal form or character. However there are some commonality of elements such as the use of threats of violence to create the climate of fear all around the place. TERRORISM does not yet enjoy a Universally acknowledged legal frameworks of codification.
In this reflection, this writer is not out to discuss the academics of the concept of terrorism but to look at it from the prism of the popular belief that checking the activities of terrorists in any given society such as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, both the government and non governmental bodies and individuals have a collective responsibility to work in synergy to attain the overall national security objective of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria. Apart from Nigeria, many debates have happened even in the Western Societies as to whether Islamic fundamentalists turned terrorists can be decisively defeated and if in the affirmative, what roles should civil social leaders play in the attainment of this overall objective.
The need to reflect deeply on the probing question of whether terrorism can be defeated and what roles should the civil leaders play in achieving holistic defeat of terrorism, has become necessary given the incessant calls for the Service Chiefs to be dismissed. The frequent media generated propaganda by Northern elders against the service chiefs concerning the protracted fight against terrorists in the North East of Nigeria, was recently faulted by a prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) which has asked the community leaders to play their own part in partnership with the armed forces of Nigeria so the counter terror war can come to a quick conclusion.
Making the charge is the Nation’s prominent civil rights advocacy group:- Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria ( HURIWA) which applauded the chief of Army staff LIEUTENANT GENERAL YUSUF TUKUR BURATAI for doing so much with so little made available given the complexity involved in waging holistic war on terrorists that have global affiliation to the Middle East based Islamic States’ terror network that is awash with secret sponsorship dollars from their institutional and private supporters. “We hereby call on Northern leaders and elders to stop the well oiled calculated and orchestrated campaign of calumny and desists from the “beer parlour” criticisms of the war on terror and return to their communities to show leadership examples to their wards and children”.
HURIWA affirmed that: “These members of the terror network seeking the destruction of modern day constitutional democracy in Nigeria are children and wards of these community elders who are now transferring their misdirected angst at the service chiefs. What the Northern elders need to do with all due respect, is to articulate position paper on practical measures to be adopted by them to dissuade and discourage their kith and kin from enlisting into the terror groups that are waging the war of attrition against the Nigerian state and the people of Nigeria”.
The Rights group said the Northern Elders supported by the central and regional governments should unfold and begin to implement community based enlightenment crusades to redirect the brainwashed Children and Youths of the North East of Nigeria to accept the universal fact that their future development and aspirations can rapidly be attained in a United, democratic and prosperous Sovereign Republic of Nigeria and not by any group of TERROR WARRIORS because: “As long as we are concerned, we think what is critical is for all stakeholders to stop playing political pranks with the war on terror being waged by the Federal Government but to contribute our quota.”
HURIWA cited highly scholarly paper by experts on how the constructively positive roles of community elders can help transform a war torn region into a peaceful and purposeful homes for all the good citizens of Nigeria thus: “One of the major challenges in our communities as narrated in the work titled ‘The role of community participation in combating crime’ is the increasing, high rate of crime. Government and law enforcement agencies, trying to control this phenomenon, have focused most of their efforts in combating it through repressive or police force related methods (Barreto2002 large and ornish 200” believe that, the adequate solution for crime related problems must be based on community participation and citizens & involvement with each other and with their communities”.
“The most important element of community crime prevention, according to this scholar appears to be bringing about social interaction, whereby residents of the community maintain a degree of familiarity with each other. Such interaction and familiarity should at least, make it possible to detect strangers in the community. Such interactions may lead to a cohesive neighbourhood. The basic philosophy of community crime prevention is that social interaction and citizen familiarity can play an important role in preventing, detecting, and reporting criminal behaviour. Community participation is regarded as an important tool for crime prevention.”
HURIWA also asked the Northern Elders and indeed Nigerian Elders to redirect their agitations towards the National and State Assemblies so good laws are immediately made and effectively implemented to create a harmonious relationship between traditional institutions, community based credible groups and the government in such a way that constitutional roles and responsibilities are created for the community leaders and traditional institutions to amongst others carry out grassroots mass enlightenment crusades and programmes to win the hearts and minds of the youths and the generality of the citizens to be focused towards social responsibility roles of building a strong, United, Cohesive and Prosperous Nigeria whereby there will be no much rooms for groups to embrace terrorism or armed struggles in their attempts to destabilise Nigeria.
Onwubiko is the Head of Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria