A cross section of participants during the workshop at Sandralia Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
The workshop was held in Abuja at Sandralia Hotel between 4th and 5th of April. Faculties for the workshop were drawn from the media, the military, academia and civil society. Some of the faculties are renowned international trainers who have trained on this issue in different parts of the globe. Daily sessions featured interactive and practical sessions. The ECOWAS also anchored a session on the overview of the Strategy.
The workshop equipped participants with requisite skills, knowledge and facilitated networking for enhanced media and civil society contribution to the prevention and combating of terrorism in the ECOWAS. This was achieved through expert facilitated sessions, and practical session on various facets of ECOWAS Counter Terrorism Strategy, terrorism prevention and combating terrorism.
The workshop was well attended by over fifty participants drawn from the media and civil society organisation across the ECOWAS and the Sahel. The workshop provided a platform for collective network building by civil society organisations and media platforms, peer learning and experience sharing. Through acquired skills, knowledge and contacts, the focus on the media and civil society experts has engendered the roles of these stakeholders over terrorism.
Key focus was on media reporting, terrorism financing, anti-terrorism legal framework in the ECOWAS, terrorism reporting, media and CSO roles and existing arguments by the terrorist among others. An evening session on Monday 4th April 2016 featured the Pakistani ambassador to Nigeria Rtd Lt. Gen. Agha Umer Farooq (a former National Security Adviser in Pakistan) and Dr. Nna-Emeka Okereke of the Nigeria Defence College (a renowned conflict and war experts with vast experience in security research and policy development in Africa). The evening session provided a more relaxed atmosphere by the pool side for closer interaction between participants and reputable experts. Okereke spoke on prevailing violent extremism in the region while the Ambassador threw more light on the experience of Pakistan in tackling the menace.
The workshop provided stimulated regional collectivism against the threat of violence extremism within the ECOWAS, provided an avenue for advocacy by participants on the need for the ECOWAS to show more commitment towards the implementation of the CTS. Participants unanimously agreed to stimulate more media and CSO attention and called the ECOWAS and member states to show the will for stronger commitment towards to peace and stability through the CTS.
It is obvious that no single member is capable of singularly dealing with the multifaceted challenges posed by terrorism. The imperative for cooperation is anchored on the fact that modern terrorism is a result of globalization and a combination of both internal and external complexities and dynamics. Coordination and pooling of resources among states is key for effectively and efficiently eliminating the threat of terrorism. Terrorist activities, particularly those that are transnational or international in nature involve several other countries. The successful prosecution of such acts requires cooperation and joint actions among various agencies in different states. In this context, cooperation in all spheres of terrorism related-matters at the Community, continental, and international levels is essential.
Excerpts of what transpired during the workshop can be access via the link: https://storify.com/CDDWestAfrica/cdd-organises-training-on-ecowas-counter-terrorism