The conference began with opening remarks from David Otto, Director of Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime at Global Risk International. He thanked everyone in attendance, particularly the Nigerian Armed Forces who were active participants in the conference’s schedule. According to Mr Otto, “this event is organised because it is necessary for this critical time”. Mr Otto’s view was that Nigeria can play a leading role in stabilising the African region if it maintained a robust plan to monitor the inflow and outflow of people not only in Nigeria, but internationally so that borders can be effectively managed.
According to Col. William Wyatt, Director of African Studies at the US Army War College, the reality of the fight against terrorism “is beyond political narratives.”
Commenting on this issue, Hanif Qadir, CEO of Active Change Foundation, questioned the effectiveness of existing strategies designed for the fight against terrorism, namely whether these strategies have reduced the number of terrorists. He stated “not to say they haven’t worked [speaking about anti-terrorism strategies] to some extent, but they haven’t been entirely effective either.” According to Mr Qadir, when tackling radicalisation through rehabilitation, “Do we understand the battlefield? Do we actually understand the mindset? A lot of focus has been on Sunni Wahabis, but if we continue to focus on one group, we will be far-off from winning the battle. If that really is the case, why are we not focusing on the root causes then?”
A lot of questions were put for debate during the conference including: what are the current threats? The community strategy? And how is the international community focusing on those threats? Amongst the many honourable guest speakers at this event included Tanwa Ashiru, Chief Intelligence, Security and Defense analyst at Bulwark Intelligence, who spoke about the injustices that potentially led to some local citizens in Nigeria taking laws into their own hands, underlying varying drivers that could potentially cause some to be radicalised; as well as Husamuddin Meyer, a German Imam, trainer and mentor on ideological approaches to PVE/CVE, who raised awareness about the development of an alternative counter-terrorism narrative.
The first session of the event ended with the presentation of the Certified Master Anti-terrorism Specialist award to Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai. He is the first African military official to receive this award and the first to have received it in its honorary division. Although General Brutai was unable to attend, the award was received on his behalf by Major General Usman Mohammed, the Chief of Civil Military Affairs in Nigeria.
This event was first of its kind in London. The Founder of Reachout Empowerment Force, Femi Senu, amongst others, was delighted to be a part of this event and participated in the workshop sessions.
Global Risk International