Participants at a Government/Civil Society Partnership Programme held at Agura Hotel, Garki, Abuja last week have urged security agencies to avoid excesses in their attempt to counter suspected terrorists activities in the country.
A communique made available to Newsdiaryonline.com said the forum resolved that “the Security Agencies should avoid operational excesses that may unfairly deny citizens of their freedoms, adding that they should effectively balance security imperatives with human right of citizens
The forum also canvassed that “ a Civil Society Consultative Forum on National Security be established and institutionalized as part of national efforts to ensure regular interactions between the Security Agencies and Nigerians. This, it was agreed, would develop the necessary synergy between the Security Agencies and the various communities in Nigeria noting that this was the practice in western democracies.
Read the full text of the communiqué below:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A ONE-DAY CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON CURRENT NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGES ORGANIZED BY GOVERNMENT/CIVIL SOCIETY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME AT AGURA HOTEL, GARKI, ABUJA ON THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013
As part of efforts to promote peaceful co-existence, violence free society and enhance security of lives and properties in the country, the Government/Civil Society Programme organized a One-Day Forum on “Current National Security Challenges on July 18, 2013 at Agura Hotel, Abuja. The Forum was in cognizance of the role of the third sector in complementing the efforts of the Federal Government in tackling developmental and security challenges in the country.
The Forum was attended by Participants from critical segments of the society, Security Agencies and government establishments. Representatives of the Nigeria Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Office of the National Security Adviser, National Orientation Agency, National Planning Commission, Public Complaints Commission, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme of the British Council, Civil Society Organizations, Distinguished Resource Persons and the Media attended the Forum
The objectives of the Forum include:
1) To provide a non-state Forum to discuss security challenges and agree on the strategies to mobilize civil support for Security Agencies.
2) To educate Civil Society Organizations on the current efforts by Security Agencies to enhance the security of lives and properties in the country;
3) To explain the statutory role of Security Agencies and the need for understanding and collaboration by the non-state organizations
4) Explore ways of institutionalizing the National Security and Civil Society Forum; and
5) To enhance the public profile of the Security Agencies.
Apart from the Keynote Address and Goodwill Messages Presented at the Opening Ceremony, a total of three papers which generated healthy discussions and submissions from participants were presented and extensively discussed at the technical session.
After very exhaustive, objective and down to earth discussions, the Forum observed as follows
1. That security was critical to national development and peace, adding that the country desire to speedily solve the problems of poverty, poor infrastructure, food insecurity etc were contingent on adequate security and peace.
2. That there has been an apparent improvement on the operational synergy among Security Agencies which has improved their effectiveness in violent areas, noting the leadership provided by the Office of the National Security Adviser in this regard.
3. That the sacrifices, loyalty and patriotism of Nigerians serving in the Security Agencies especially in the current efforts to combat terrorism have not been fully appreciated by some groups and Agencies
4. That the level of cooperation and understanding between the Security Agencies and the Civil Society in Nigeria is grossly inadequate against the background of the urgent need for collective national action against terrorism. Nonetheless, the Forum observed the vibrancy and effectiveness of the Nigerian Army Civil Military Unit
5. That the Mass Media reportage of current security challenges has not been entirely in the country’s national interest, adding that in many cases they have given undue attention to terrorists propaganda.
6. The establishment of the National Counter Terrorism Centre to enhance coordination and synergy among Security Agencies.
Arising from the fore-going observations, the Forum recommended as follows:
i. That the current synergy among the Security Agencies should be sustained and strengthened, adding that they should be institutionalized in the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President
ii. That the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency provide the necessary support for the establishment of the Fusion Centre which would facilitate timely processing of intelligence. This has been in place in the Western Countries and has helped in their counter terrorism efforts.
iii. That Nigerians, especially the organized Civil Society, should support current efforts of the Federal Government to address the problems of national security through consensus building against terrorists groups and encourage community support for security operations.
iv. That the Mass Media should continue to exhibit high level of professional conduct by ensuring that issues of national security are supported with fairness, objectively taking into consideration the collective desire of all Nigerians for peace.
v. That the Security Agencies should avoid operational excesses that may unfairly deny citizens of their freedoms, adding that they should effectively balance security imperatives with human right of citizens
vi. That a Civil Society Consultative Forum on National Security be established and institutionalized as part of national efforts to ensure regular interactions between the Security Agencies and Nigerians. This, it was agreed, would develop the necessary synergy between the Security Agencies and the various communities in Nigeria noting that this was the practice in western democracies.
vii. That the Nigeria Army Civil-Military Relations Unit should be further strengthened while commending its model to other Security Agencies.
viii. That the National Assembly should introduce relevant legislations, through an inclusive law making process to address the country’s security challenges
The Forum came to a close with participants commending the Government/Civil Society Partnership Programme for the noble initiative in organizing the Forum and called for its institutionalization and enlargement for meaningful impact.
The Government/Civil Society Partnership on the other hand, expressed sincere and profound gratitude to participants for their positive contributions which no doubt aided the success of the Forum. The motion for the adoption of the Communiqué was moved by Mr. Idah O.K David and seconded by Mrs. Rosemary Effiong.
Davidson Aminu Lanre Adebayo Ph.D
Chairman, Communiqué Committee Chairman, Government Civil
Society Partnership Programme
Mohammed .B. Attah
Secretary, Government Civil Society