The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has trained 640 Nigerians in different aspects of anti-terrorism intervention to boost the national response to terrorism and multi-dimensional security threats in the country. Drawn from 33 organizations, beneficiaries of the training will serve as in-country counter-terrorism national officials. The training was conducted over a 20-month period, with funds provided by the European Union under the framework of the Nigeria-EU-UNODC-CTED Partnership on Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses for Multidimensional Security. Trainees included investigators, prosecutors, legal advisers of relevant government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and judges of the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ roundtable in Abuja to disseminate and discuss achievements of the project, Mr. Alan Munday, Head of Political Governance and Democracy (Development Cooperation) at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the knowledge gained from this training was significant and very important. “The training has delivered a core of better trained and better aware Nigerian officials dealing with counter-terrorism in different ways and at different levels. We hope that the program has helped to strengthen the ability not only to counter terrorism but to also deal with perpetrators of the terrorism act,” he said.
UNODC is actively involved in the fight against terrorism globally and provides capacity building programs that are adapted to local needs. The counter-terrorism project in Nigeria aims to enhance criminal justice capacity for effective rule-of-law-based investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of terrorist cases; promote inter-agency collaboration on counter-terrorism matters, enhance the national legal regime against terrorism, strengthen international cooperation against terrorism and ensure respect for human rights. The project featured 24 training sessions with practical lessons, role-plays, mentoring, and experience-sharing by counter-terrorism professionals from different parts of the world.
“The capacity building program has been focused on practical issues relevant to the challenges that Nigeria is facing right now. We’re making sure that the technical assistance is specific and tailored to the needs of Nigeria,” said Mr. Trevor Rajah, Chief of Terrorism Prevention Branch at UNODC headquarters. “UNODC is pleased to serve an important role of building capacity to bring terrorists to justice. The project has been successful and we hope that it will help in taking the fight against terrorism further,” said Mr. Koli Kouame, UNODC Nigeria Country Representative.
Mr. Bassey Akpanyung, Secretary of the National Planning Commission, delivered opening remarks at the roundtable. Other high level representatives of 21 Nigerian entities participated in the roundtable. These included representatives of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigerian Police Force, Department of State Security Services, Office of the National Security Advisor, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Prisons Service, Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corps, embassies, and the National Judicial Institute.
Participants in the roundtable discussed achievements and lessons learned from the project and agreed on priority issues for technical assistance, helping to ensure that the next phase of UNODC’s technical assistance program will be developed with the full input, support and ownership of the Nigerian national stakeholders.