In my previous post,[1] I attempted to show how terrorism has continued to threaten national and global peace and security. We looked at the fight against   terrorism in the local and international scene and reactions so far through the instrumentality of the law. This week, from an International Law perspective, I will be showing some of the efforts the Nigerian government have been making in our fight against terrorism, particularly through regional and international cooperation. Some specific provisions of the Nigerian Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 will also be highlighted in view of current challenges.

On August 26, 2011 a terrorist crashed into the lobby of the building before detonating his VBIED[2], killing 24 persons and injuring over 120 persons. The terrorist had rammed two exit gates of the United Nations (UN) headquarters compound in Abuja. Boko Haram claimed responsibility via BBC-Hausa radio. This was seen as an attack on the international community.

Domestically and internationally, the government worked to improve coordination and cooperation among its security agencies on counterterrorism. President Goodluck Jonathan created the position on Counterterrorism Coordinator and in September replaced its first coordinator, a former ambassador, with an Army General. In practice, the NSA[3] retained the lead as coordinator of the Nigerian government strategy to counter terrorism. However,   the National Focal Point on Terrorism – an interagency task force formed in 2007 that includes the State Security Service (SSS), Nigerian Customs Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Immigration – did not actively operate in 2011.[4]

On countering terrorist financing, Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, or GIABA, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body.[5] Nigeria was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic anti-money laundering/combating terrorist financing (AML/CTF) deficiencies. Nigeria committed to an action plan with the FATF to address these weaknesses, but in October 2011 was identified in the FATF public statement for its failure to make sufficient progress on this action plan.

Nigeria enacted into law the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, which included provisions prohibiting terrorist financing and providing for the seizure of funds and property held by individual terrorists or terrorist organizations. The act covers the provision or collection of funds used to carry out terrorist acts, including property and funds used by individuals or terrorist organizations. In addition, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act includes money laundering and terrorist financing provisions.

Concerning regional and international cooperation, the Nigerian government was a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). Also, the Nigerian government hosted and fully participated in the development of Economic Community of West African states’ (ECOWAS) “counterterrorism strategy and implementation plan.” Nigeria also helped to develop the ECOWAS “political declaration against terrorism.” The May counterterrorism strategy planning and review meeting occurred at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja. Nigeria sent representatives to the November 2011 “Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism” meeting in Morocco.

However, it should be noted that there are some outstanding concerns that theNigerian Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 may not be fully in line with international standards in certain aspects. Against this background, some of the specific provisions of the Nigerian Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 will be highlighted in the concluding part of this article next week.

Let’s keep a date, shall we?                                                                     



[1] Nigeria, Global Terrorism and the Law
[2] Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device
[3] National Security Adviser
[4]  United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 – Nigeria, 31 July 2012, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/501fbca9c.html [accessed 25 January 2013]                                                      
[5] Same source as above.

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Nigerian Law Today

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