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Maiduguri: 12,000 Civilian Volunteers Demand Permission From Government To Go After Boko Haram

jtf-Maiduguri_0
  • Some of the ex-servicemen, who had served in

the military, the police, and with the SSS, said

today that they wished to join youths in the

civilian joint task force (JTF) to stop Boko Haram’s

incessant attacks and recent string of triumphs

over demoralized Nigerian soldiers based in the

violence-ravaged northeast of Nigeria.

With military officials and the government of

Borno State quietly backing away from claims that

the strategic town of Bama was still in the control

of Nigerian soldiers, at least 12,000 volunteers

gathered today in Maiduguri to offer their

services in the war against the Islamist terrorist

group, Boko Haram. The volunteers, who

gathered at the Maiduguri palace of the Shehu of

Borno, Abubakar Umar Ibn- Garbai Elkanemi,

urged the Nigerian government to accept their

services in the war against terror.

Our correspondent reported that thousands of

ex-service men, hunters, and youths said they

were ready to become part of the increasingly

critical war against Boko Haram, which recently

has captured several towns in Borno and Yobe

States and killed more than 2,000 civilians in the

first half of 2014, according to Human Rights

Watch.

Some of the ex-servicemen, who had served in

the military, the police, and with the SSS, said

today that they wished to join youths in the

civilian joint task force (JTF) to stop Boko Haram’s

incessant attacks and recent string of triumphs

over demoralized Nigerian soldiers based in the

violence-ravaged northeast of Nigeria.

The prospective volunteers trooped today to the

palace of the Shehu of Borno to seek his support

and cooperation in their desire to combat the

seemingly energized and increasingly more brutal

Islamist insurgents. Some of the vigilante

volunteers vowed to enter Sambisa forest and

other hideouts to hunt down Boko Haram

militants and bring an end to the ongoing

insurgency.

Over the last three weeks, Boko Haram insurgents

launched a series of attacks on several towns in

Borno and neighboring states, including Damboa,

Gamboru Ngala, Bama and Banki. The terrorists

have seized numerous towns and engaged in

widespread slaughter of civilians. Thousands of

people have been displaced, some of them taking

refuge in neighboring west African countries.

Some of the volunteers said their goal was to

resist Boko Haram’s reign of terror and to reverse

the insurgent group’s seizure of important towns.

Ex-staff sergeant Yahaya Suleiman, who fought in

Nigeria’s civil war, urged the Nigerian government

to accept the offer from him and others. “We are

fully ready to join the military in fighting against

terrorism. Enough is enough. All we need is

support from the federal government to stop this

madness.”

The dramatic gathering came a day after the

Shehu of Borno suggested that people of

different faiths observe three days of alms,

prayers and fasting in order to restore peace to

the state and the country at large.

The Shehu also called on members of the vigilante

youth, popularly known as ‘Civilian JTF,’ to always

abide by the rule of law while discharging their

civic responsibilities.

Addressing the volunteers, the traditional ruler

commended the effort of the civilian JTF in

tackling the Boko Haram insurgency. He urged

them to always follow the directives of the

military and other security agencies. He added

that the civilian JTF had helped to dislodge the

sect from Maiduguri and surrounding areas. He

encouraged other besieged towns and

communities to set up their own volunteers to

help fight terrorism.

“I want to thank you for this visit and the effort

you are collectively and voluntarily making in

order to fight Boko Haram who are bent in not

only destroying our social and economic

structures, but also killing innocent lives. I want to

also appeal to you that you should desist from

politics, religious or ethnic considerations while

discharging your duties.”

The Borno State coordinator of the civilian JTF,

Abba Aji, said the residents of the beleaguered

states had suffered enough at the hands of Boko

Haram. He said he and other volunteers were

determined to go after the insurgents “even if we

are not well armed. We are optimistic that, with

our sticks, Dane guns and other local arms, we will

raid all terrorist hideouts and kill them when

given permission by the federal government.”

Mr. Aji added that members of the civilian JTF

were now more motivated with the support and

assurance they received from retired military

men, local hunters and other patriotic citizens

who have expressed their willingness join the

group to end the madness perpetrated by Boko

Haram terrorists.

The passion displayed by the volunteers came as

US authorities tacitly confirmed that the

insurgents had indeed seized the town of Bama,

contrary to earlier denials by the Nigerian military

and Borno State officials. Bama is less than 45

miles from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

Its capture by Boko Haram raised fears that the

group might try to seize Maiduguri as well.

A top US official announced plans to offer a

border security initiative designed to help Nigeria

and other threatened West African countries to

contain the Islamists.

Speaking in Abuja, Assistant Secretary of State

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, described the situation

on the ground in Nigeria as “worsening.” Noting

that attacks by Boko Haram insurgents had

“grown more acute,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield

added, “This is a sober reality check for all of us.

We are past time for denial and pride.”

The official stated that the US was “very troubled

by the apparent capture of Bama and the

prospects for an attack on and in Maiduguri.”

Speaking to SaharaReporters, an official of Borno

State backed away from earlier claims that Bama

was still in the hands of Nigerian soldiers. The

source blamed the deputy governor for spreading

the misleading information, admitting that Bama

was under the control of Islamist insurgents. The

official said he was confident that Nigerian troops

and civilian volunteers would drive the terrorist

fighters out of Bama and other seized towns in

Borno State.

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