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Volunteer groups in the fight against insurgency

Civilian JTF in Michika, Adamawa State. Photo: VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, a group of youths in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, banded together to respond to deadly attacks in their neighbourhood by Boko Haram insurgents.

The Civilian Joint Taskforce, or CJTF, is one of the volunteer groups formed to combat the dreaded insurgency.

At the height of the crisis, the CJTF has been credited with chasing insurgents out of Maiduguri with sticks and cutlasses, though it also faces allegations of human rights violations.

The civil force was replicated in 25 local government areas to supplement the military’s and other security agencies’ efforts to defeat the insurgency.

Because of its knowledge of the terrain and understanding of local languages, it has played an important role in counter-insurgency operations.

CJTF has ten sectors with 23,000 volunteers spread across the state, with a sector commander, Baba Shehu Abdulganiyu.

According to Abdulganiyu, the formation of the volunteer group has increased synergy and trust between communities and the military.

According to him, the CJTF has lost over 1,000 members, including both lost and missing members, while many others have been integrated into the military and other security agencies.

He told Radio Nigeria that the group was solely funded by the state government, which provides them with allowances and operational logistics.

Hunters and vigilante groups

Hunters and vigilantes are two other groups that have helped to drive insurgents from their strongholds.

In 2014, media reports said they assisted the Nigerian army to recapture two northeastern towns that had been overrun by insurgents.

Bunu Mustapha, Secretary of the Borno State Hunters Association, urged the government to strengthen local vigilantes to prevent criminal acts from escalating.

According to the president of the Peace Ambassadors Centre for Humanitarian Aid, the organisation has trained local vigilantes in areas of human rights violations and how to collaborate with security agencies.

He also stated that the centre, in collaboration with the state ministry of justice, developed a code of conduct that will guide their operations, while also advocating for a funding model in which communities can support local vigilantes in their immediate surroundings.

Reporting by Dauda Iliya; Editing by Saadatu Albashir and Tony Okerafor