In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency (SoE) in northeastern Nigeria. The States including Borno, Bauchi and Yobe with the aim of using the military to eliminate Boko Haram safe havens and disrupt their intent for attacks.
The operation, to some extent is very successful even though with some discomfort to the civilians, whose movement have been restricted and the cut off of mobile phones. The military operation is under the ‘Joint Task Force’ (JTF) which comprised the military, police and other security agencies with the main objective of defeating the cruel Islamist insurgency.
Since the beginning of the operation, the JTF have succeeded in chasing the insurgents out of their strongholds including Sambisa forest and in Marte and other parts of northern Borno State. Large number of insurgents were either killed or arrested by the Special Forces who bombed their camps. Some top Boko Haram fighters as well as their commanders were captured. Those who escape take refuge in neighboring countries, while others are said to have hidden in their family homes.
Realizing the difficulties of identifying the Boko Haram members from the populace, local vigilante and youths have mobilized themselves to identify with the smooth operation by establishing what is now known as the ‘Civilian JTF’.
The Civilian-JTF is comprised of mostly Muslim youths including women, street thugs, card vendors and Okada riders who fed up with the criminalities of Boko Haram members. The story so far is the recognition and acknowledgement of the Civilian-JTF by the security officers in the affected areas. The local group has assisted the authorities to uproot the bloody sect from the capital by moving round the city wards, capturing the escaped sect members, apprehending them and handing them over to the military-led JTF.
The Civilian JTF’s restless effort is receiving more attention as they are now referred to as a “new National Heroes” by those in government. Even among their people, their actions are well preferred, because unlike the Military JTF that has been accused of Human Rights Violations, the Civilian JTF’s actions were justified as they are seen as integral part of the society.
While there have been some reservation on the activities of the civilian-JTF who are untrained and largely uneducated on basic security drill, their emergence is a welcome development.
In view of their desire to contribute to security of their communities, the authority should provide all necessary assistance for their training and funding so that they become active volunteers in the supports of military intervention to eliminate militants in their communities. The Government should not dismantle them, but rather encourage the youths to observe the human right ethics.
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