Bakassi boys were used by the government
security problems in Nigeria
New security problem For the Nigerian Government
In 2013, thousands of young men formed a rag-tag militia and rounded up Boko Haram members in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, then handed them over to the military.
The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), as it later became known, was instrumental in driving the Islamist militants out of the strategic city.
Since then, the ranks of the “vigilantes” have swollen to about 20,000 across the remote region.
Armed with home-made muskets, swords, axes, slingshots and bows and arrows, they man security checkpoints and even accompany the military on operations against the jihadists.
Some have already been implicated in allegations of human rights abuses and there are fears that with no alternative employment, some could turn to a life of crime.
“What next after the war is our concern,” said the Borno state coordinator of the CJTF, Abba Aji Kalli.
“Some vigilantes may decide to become criminals. The government should think twice before it’s too late.”
“Going by the current trend we are heading towards a repeat of the Bakassi Boys scenario,” he suggested.
The Bakassi Boys were a militia in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, who were formed to fight armed robbery and other crime in 1998.
Politicians used them as violent enforcers during the 2003 elections but they turned to crime, including oil theft and kidnapping for ransom, when they were disbanded.
Author: Joshua Uweru
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