The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called for the initiation of Early Warning Early Response (EWER) mechanisms, especially at community levels, as proactive measure to conflict prevention.
CISLAC/ Transparency International (TI-Nigeria) with support from Open Society Foundation Africa (OSF-AFRICA) made the call during a one day media training on EWER reporting at Ikeja.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) in his welcome address said CISLAC, the chapter for Transparency International Nigeria, has for many years, been advocating for various reforms in both the Defence and Security sectors through projects such as: Strengthening Citizens’ Participation towards Peace and Security, Reconciliation and Stability in Nigeria; Strengthening Accountability in Nigeria Defence Sector; Increase Transparency, Accountability and Integrity in the Nigeria Defence and Security sector; Protection of Civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation (POC-CHM) in Armed Conflict.
According him, throughout these interventions CISLAC conducted series of High-Level engagements with Defence and Security Agencies, Chairmen, Members and Clerks of Relevant Committees at the National Assembly, MDAs, Civil Society and Media Groups as well as other State and Non-State Actors at National and State Levels.
His words: “While these intervention without doubt provoked discussions around Defence and Security reforms with appreciable policy response, the criticality of initiating Early Warning Early Response mechanisms, especially at community levels, as proactive measure to conflict prevention was highly recommended by stakeholders.”
“Consequently, efforts to bridge this lingering gap brought to the limelight, the ongoing project which focuses on: Strengthening Capacity, Advocacy, Accountability and Local Engagement towards Developing Early Warning and Early Response Mechanisms to Enhance Protection of Civilians in Nigeria, being implemented by CISLAC across the six geopolitical zones, with support from Open Society Foundation (OSF).”
“As you are not unaware of, every part of Nigeria currently battles with evolving epidemy of multi-dimensional security threats. Lagos State in particular, is bedevilled with clashes between indigenes and non-indigenes on the basis of ethnic differences and more intense is this challenge giving the recently conducted general elections.”
“This situation calls for more collaboration, communication, coordination and collective support for early warning, conflict prediction and early response mechanisms amongst communities and security operatives, which are central in conflict prevention.”
“Howbeit, an EWER system with the buy-in of communities and security operatives but without the commitments of journalists to conflict sensitive reportage, cannot be as effective as it ought to be.”
“This is because journalists are the mouthpiece of the civilian populace and where information provided to the public are conflict prone, regardless of how dedicated communities and security operatives are towards early warning and early response, the triggers will always be there to ignite conflict. It is on this backdrop that we acknowledge the essential role of the media as major stakeholders in conflict prevention, through conflict sensitive reporting.
“EWER systems are built to allow for trained community observers to carefully observe their environment and report indicators of conflict to community response networks who in turn are expected to apply professionalism in processing information provided and respond accordingly with an aim to de-escalate potential crises. Therefore, information provided to the public must remain objective and devoid of sensations that are potential triggers to conflict or violence.
“Under this project, CISLAC will be complementing the role of internal security agencies by building well-informed and vibrant Early Warning Community Observers in Lagos State, which will be representing the South-West, to enhance collaboration, build trust and ownership with state security institutions, community leaders and community security structures, using the EWER system as a vehicle, to prevent threats of conflict from escalating.
He, therefore, called on the media to collaborate with CISLAC to improve protection of civilians in Lagos State and in Nigeria through objective and conflict sensitive reporting.
“We also call on the media to support the activities of EW Community Observers who have been trained to monitor, and report EW threat signals under this project, to amplify these threats signals, to spur security operatives to respond speedily and with professionalism, as activities unfold in the state.”
“Lastly, we call on the media to own the EWER system by leveraging verifiable information and data that will be generated through Early Detection and to utilize same as caution signals, to prevent harm, loss of lives and properties and to de-escalate crises,” he added.