Tags: nigerian | vigilante | patrols | checkpoints

Nigerian Vigilante Patrols Take on Boko Haram

By    |   Thursday, 25 July 2013 01:42 PM

Vigilante organizations have formed in the northeastern Nigerian city of Malduguri to take on the jihadist organization Boko Haram, the BBC reports.

Checkpoints manned by armed civilians, many carrying machetes, knives, sticks, and metal pipes, have become part of the landscape in Malduguri. The city, home to more than half-a-million people, is the birthplace of Boko Haram, whose four-year-old insurgency has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

“When the situation became too bad to endure, we decided to find the Boko Haram members ourselves,” said Mohammed, a civilian who was stopping and searching people at one of the checkpoints.

“Whenever we see them, we arrest them and hand them over to the army. Some of us know these people,” said Mohammed, who told the BBC that he and his colleagues are not paid for their work.

The vigilantes began appearing on the streets in early June, shortly after a state of emergency was declared in the region and the Nigerian government dispatched thousands of additional troops there to wipe out the militants.

While most of those manning the checkpoints are teenage boys and young men, women are there to search female passengers.

Mohammed, a truck driver, said that when the civilian patrols detain a suspected militant, “we bring the holy Koran and ask him to swear on it. If he’s lying, we’re sure he will die.”
“If we are allowed to operate without any interference, definitely we will bring an end to this problem,” he added.

While Nigerian officials have stated that they welcome the vigilante support, no decision has been made on whether to provide the patrols with guns.

Many of the Nigerian Army soldiers in the region are from other parts of the country and do not know the Kanuri language - the main one used in Malduguri - hampering their ability to communicate with local residents.

There have been allegations that vigilante groups have killed suspected Boko Haram members instead of turning them over to the Nigerian military.

Eyewitnesses said that in early June, Islamists shot 13 people to death in an apparent reprisal attack on vigilante groups.

But jihadist attacks on schools have killed 48 students and seven teachers over the past month in northern Nigeria, leading some analysts to argue that security forces need help and that vigilantes can play a vital role in thwarting terror.

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Vigilante organizations have formed in the northeastern Nigerian city of Malduguri to take on the jihadist organization Boko Haram.
Thursday, 25 July 2013 01:42 PM
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