The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has called on religious leaders to support the Nigerian Army in eradicating ideologies fueling insurgency in the country.
Mr Buratai made the call at the opening of the Spiritual Warfare Seminar organized by the Nigerian Army Directorate of Chaplain Services Roman Catholic, Protestant and Directorate of Islamic Affairs on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the seminar is “Countering Insurgency and Violent Extremism in Nigerian Through Spiritual Warfare”.
Represented by the Chief of Army Administration, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Yusuf, Buratai said that the insurgents’ wrong ideological beliefs had remained the driving force behind their actions.
He said that the need to defeat the ideologies of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists was based on the awareness that it was their ideologies that had enhanced their resource and how to recruit new fighters to their folds.
According to him, terrorism will wither and die if the ideology is killed.
“By its nature, ideologies have the power to manipulate what people think, inform their opinion and direct their attitude. It is a well-known fact that terrorism and terrorist groups will not be totally eliminated by mainly military actions.
“This means focusing our effort on the underlaying narratives through ideologies that are employed by these terrorist groups to lure innocent citizens into their fold.
“Communities and the states need to be joined with the common purpose of rejecting the ideology of this group and those who exposed them. This can be better achieved through the provision of appropriate counter narratives targeted at the ideology of the terrorist group,” he said.
The Army chief said countering terrorists` ideologies could start at the grassroots where families and local communities would be at the forefront of efforts to protect vulnerable people from succumbing to extremists` beliefs.
He said religious leaders regularly interfaced with the society, and so could make viable contributions in tackling terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
Mr Buratai said that the army had achieved great feats in the fight against insurgents, pointing out that it had broken the ranks of the terrorists and degraded their will to fight.