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Published On: Wed, Mar 19th, 2014

FG opens ‘soft power’ front against Boko Haram – NSA

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By Joy Baba & Uche Nnorom, Makurdi with Agency reports

Nigeria yesterday unveiled a new “soft power” plan to defeat Boko Haram, hoping to win hearts and minds in the restive northeast, as the military said it was tightening the net on the ground.

National Security Adviser, Gambo Dasuki, said the government was to introduce schemes to encourage local communities to shun extremism as well as “de-radicalise” suspected militants awaiting trial.

“It’s a stick and carrot approach. We believe that we can win the war against terror by mobilising our family, cultural, religious and national values,” he told a news conference in Abuja.

He said new tactics were required because the Islamists had infiltrated communities in the remote region, enabling them to spread their message more effectively than the government, he added.

Dasuki’s comments came after an upsurge in Boko Haram-linked violence that has killed more than 700 people so far this year; one of the deadliest rates since the insurgency began in 2009.

Since emergency rule was imposed in the northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa last May, some 300,000 people have been displaced, piling pressure on local authorities and relief agencies.

Last Friday, militant fighters launched a daring strike on the Giwa barracks in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, hurling explosives to break out dozens of their brothers in arms from custody.

The attack came after a wave of strikes on civilians in rural Borno, as well as on a boarding school in Yobe, that saw students slaughtered in their beds and prompted international condemnation.

In a related development, the NSA has said terrorism is un-Islamic, adding that terrorists twist and pervert the true meaning and spirit of religious text to win support for their evil cause.

Dasuki stated this yesterday at the Roll Out Of Nigeria’s Soft Approach To Countering Terrorism seminar held in Abuja.

He also said there is no one particular path that leads to terrorism rather there are many, often complicated paths that lead to terrorism.

According to him “While there have been established push factors, conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism such as poverty, joblessness, prolonged unresolved conflict, social injustice, a growing youth bulge, we know for instance that poverty in itself is not an automatic ticket to radicalization”.

Meanwhile, Makurdi, Benue State capital was yesterday thrown into panic following the death of two persons said to have been murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen at the Welfare quarters.

Police sources said a relation of the deceased had reported the death of his brother who went to the farm, only to discover his lifeless body with machete cuts.

Confirming the incident, Police Public Relations Officer, SP Daniel Ezeala said police also discovered another dead body which was burnt beyond recognition laying beside the corpse of the man that was earlier reported.

In another development, one person was allegedly killed by a soldier at Benue Cement Company located in Tse Kucha, Gboko Local Government area of the state.

A source at the cement factory who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said problem started between a soldier and a young man in the area, soon degenerated to a big fight which culminated into the killing of one person.

Confirming the report, the PPRO said police immediately moved in and removed the blockade from the road while also trying to restore peace in the area.


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