Ghanaian Counter-Terrorist celebrated, honoured as 2017 African of the Year

By
Amadu Kamil Sanah, GNA

Accra, Feb. 3, GNA –
Mr Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar, the Founder and Executive Director of the West Africa
Centre for Counter Extremism (WACCE) has been honoured as the 2017 Daily Trust
African of the Year.

The event which was
held in Abuja, Nigeria also honoured a Lifetime Achievement award to retired
Professor Magdi Habib Yacoub, a renowned Egyptian-British Cardiothoracic
Surgeon at Imperial College, London, who has performed more lung transplants
than any other surgeon in the world and Head of Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation
Project in Egypt for his extraordinary service to humanity.

Mr Muqthar, a
Ghanaian born Counter-Terrorist and a Civil Society Activist was selected for
the award by the Pan-African selection team led by Festus Moghae, the Former
President of Botswana, who in 2016 succeeded the selection committee’s first
Chairman, Salim Ahmad Salim, the Former Prime Minister of Tanzania.

The 35 year-old, who
carries home a cash prize of $25,000 donated by United Bank for Africa, (UBA)
is the youngest African to have ever won the coveted award for his work in
turning young people in West Africa, including university students, away from
terrorism.

In an interview with
the Ghana News Agency in Accra at the weekend, Mr Muqthar revealed that his
inspiration to get involved in the fight against terrorism was when his family
became victims of the deadly Nanumba/Konkomba conflict that took place in
Northern Region in 1994.

He said the conflict
was the worst civil one in Ghana since its independence in 1957 and had claimed
at least 1,000 lives and tens of thousands were displaced.

Mr Muqthar said, the
WACCE works across West Africa to deepen the understanding of violent extremism
and radicalisation, while promoting the support available to vulnerable groups.

“The WACCE team of
professionals engages with would-be extremists and takes them through a support
system, de-radicalises them and helps re-integrate them into society, school
and work.”

He said the vision
of the WACCE is to create a sustainably peaceful society and build social
resilience against fear, whilst its mission is to inspire sustainable peace and
social confidence through working with the local community to uncover the
underpinnings of conflicts and violence and to support State and regional
counter-terrorism and security strategy.

He identified the
group most susceptible to the Jihadist message to be youth who are in their
early twenties with high school education, university students as well as those
who were obsessed with social media and those frustrated over lack of
employment opportunities.

His efforts in the
fight against terrorism has already been recognised by other organisations. In
2016, he was invited by the US State Department to Washington DC to meet
President Barack Obama as Mandela Washington Fellow of the Young Africa
Leadership Initiative.

He said, his Centre
has so far rescued 20 Ghanaian youth from extremism as it prevented radicalised
Ghanaian boys from leaving this country to join ISIS in Syria.

Born in Kidengi, a
village near Salaga in the Northern Region to a family of peasant farmers,
Muqthar holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from
Ashesi University, Ghana.

He also earned a
Masters degree in international terrorism, international crime and global
security from Coventry University, United Kingdom, and also under-studied
anti-mafia prosecutors in Sicily, Italy.

Mr Muqthar is a
member of the Global Shapers of the World Economic Forum, a member of the
Africa Renaissance Movement, Honorary Fellow of Addio Pizzo, an anti-mafia
organisation in Sicily, Italy, and was a finalist of the United Kingdom Alumni
Awards 2016 for his impactful contribution to the fight against violent
extremism in Africa

Since the
institution of the Daily Trust award ten years ago, many heroic Africans such
as Dr Dennis Mukwege, a Congolese surgeon, Dr Tajudeen Abdulraheem, the late
Nigerian Pan-African activist,  Mr Thabo
Mbeki, Former President of South African, Danny Jordan, South African Football
Administrator, Salifou Fatimata Bazeye, Chief Justice of Niger Republic,
Gregoire Ahongbonon, the Beninois mental health activist, Dr Christiana Thorpe,
Sierra Leone Chief Electoral Commissioner and Selim Keita, a famous Malian
musician have been awarded.

GNA

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