By Paul Odenyi, Head, Press Unit, NOA.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Nigerian Army are working together to de-radicalize repentant insurgents in the North-East of the country and implement counter-narratives to discourage insurgency.
Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari announced this when he received the Director, Nigerian Army Civil-Military Affairs, Brigadier General Solomon Kumapaye in his office.
Abari said the Agency and the Army are strengthening existing partnerships towards enhancing civil-military relations and fast-tracking de-radicalization in the Noth East, with NOA providing sensitization and counter-narrative materials, especially in Borno and Gombe, through the Operations Lafiya Dole and Safe Corridor of the Nigerian Army. He said it was only natural for the Nigerian Army which has presence in 32 out of the nation’s 36 States and FCT to partner with NOA which has presence in all States, the FCT and 774 Local Governments of the Federation.
The NOA boss however called for a two-pronged approach to de-radicalization emphasizing inputs from both the armed forces and the traditional and religious leaders as well.
Commending the Nigerian Army for establishing a Civil Rights desk, Abari said the Army was living up to expectations and transiting from existing stereotypes in line with international best practices. He also praised the Nigerian armed forces for degrading Boko Haram and ensuring Nigerians in the North-East can now sleep with both eyes closed, saying the development speaks volumes of the commitment of the armed forces to securing the country.
Speaking earlier, the Civil-Military Affairs Director, Brig. Gen. Kumapaye said the Directorate was created to drive the non-kinetic aspects of warfare and ensure the rights of civilians are respected in military operations. He said consequently, the Nigerian Army has secured the toll-free Short Code: 193 with which the public can now reach the Army, using any mobile network, promising prompt response on any issue, from complaints on the conduct of its personnel to emergency concerns.
Brig. Gen. Kumapaye said the de-radicalization and counter-narrative initiative of the Nigerian Army is yielding much result in the North-East with many repentant insurgents surrendering for de-radicalization and re-integration into society.
He said the Army plans to implement the same initiative in the South-East following the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to discourage secessionist narratives and requires NOA’s active involvement in the planned programme.