Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said that terrorism and terrorist groups could not be eliminated alone by the military unless religious bodies and organisations in the country come to the “forefront of this spiritual battle.”
The Army chief noted that the focus must be religious groups interfacing on addressing the ideologies which fuelled the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists.
He said this on Monday in Abuja during a spiritual warfare seminar at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre with the theme, “Countering insurgency and violent extremism in Nigeria through spiritual warfare,” according to Punch.
Represented by the Chief of Administration, Maj. Gen. Sani Yusuf, Buratai urged Islamic and Christian clerics across the Army formations to join the fight against terrorism, and reorient the people against negative ideologies.
“It is easier to defeat Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists than their ideology because, while we degrade the terrorists and their havens, the narrative of the ideology grows the group,” the Army chief said.
“Therefore,” he added, “communities, families, and groups should join in the fight and narratives to reject and prevent the ideologies of the terrorists and extremist groups.
“Religious bodies and organisations in particular who interface regularly with the grassroots should be at the forefront of this spiritual battle and fashion out ways of stepping up their roles.
“The fight against terrorism, Boko Haram and ISWAP, as well as other security threats, cannot be left to the troops in the battle field alone.
“Yes, we will do our duties, but the need to tackle groups through spiritual warfare and re-orientating the followers against the ideology is also a necessity.
“It is a well-known fact that terrorism and terrorist groups cannot be totally eliminated by mainly military actions.
“This means focusing our efforts on the underlying narratives through ideologies that are employed by these terrorists to lure innocent citizens to their fold.
“The need to defeat the ideologies of Boko Haram and ISWAP is based on the awareness that it is the ideologies that enhance their resources and help to recruit new fighters to their fold and as such; kill their ideology and the terrorist movement withers and dies.”
The Army chief added that religious leaders and clerics who regularly interface with members of the society must “fashion out ways of stepping up [their] roles, remembering that the fight against terrorism is a collective responsibility.”
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.