AFRICANGLOBE – More than 75 Boko Haram terrorists have reportedly been killed in a showdown with local vigilantes and hunters who managed to recapture the town of Maiha in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa State and who are now advancing on nearby Mubi.
“Our men have captured Maiha and are now on their way to Mubi,” Jubrin Gunda, a spokesman for the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a vigilante group known for its counter-terrorism efforts, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
“It was not soldiers that captured the town, but local hunters and vigilantes,” he said.
“They killed more than 75 militants in the process, while many militants were forced to flee,” said Gunda.
Maiha was captured last week following the fall of Mubi, a major town located some 25km from Maiha, raising fears of a militant advance on Yola, provincial capital of Adamawa State.
“From Maiduguri, we sent 60 of our boys to join the vigilantes and hunters in Adamawa for this mission,” said Gunda. “They are now on their way to Mubi.”
The CJTF was officially unveiled early last year as a self-motivated group of young men determined to end Boko Haram’s attacks.
They have since been credited with driving militants from several areas of Borno State, especially the state capital, Maiduguri.
Adamu Buba, the man believed to have founded the task force, now serves as its supreme commander.
The CJTF, which often carries out house-to-house searches for insurgent elements, has been commended for helping restore calm to Maiduguri after the militants were flushed from the city.
Following claims of abuse, the Borno State government moved to regulate the CJTF’s activities by laying down regulations for taking in members and training them.
The group currently enjoys representation in several parts of Borno State.
It is not known how many members the group has across Nigeria’s troubled northeastern region, although most are believed to hail from Maiduguri.
Peregrinoh Brimah, coordinator of “Every Nigerian Do Something (ENDS),” an anti-Boko Haram coalition, also confirmed the vigilantes’ reported “victory.”
“While the Nigerian Army has remained without motivation and lacking in necessary equipment… to score defeats against the terrorists and recapture seized Nigerian territory, the brave civilian forces – comprising hunters, vigilantes and CJTF members – have begun to bring hope to the nation with this reported victory,” Brimah said in a message to AA.
African Independent Television, a local TV channel, has also reported that Mubi had been liberated by a combination of Nigerian troops and vigilantes.
Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade, for his part, did not respond to AA’s enquiries regarding the recapture of Maiha.
In recent months, Boko Haram has captured numerous towns and villages in Nigeria’s northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, declaring them part of an “Islamic caliphate.”
Hundreds of civilians have been killed as a result and tens of thousands displaced.
A state of emergency imposed on the trio of states is due to expire this week.
It is not clear whether the Nigerian government will seek to extend the state of emergency, which has been criticized for failing to rein in the militants.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in Nigeria’s local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.
The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.
In the five years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks on places of worship and government institutions, along with thousands of deaths.
Along with Nigeria, Turkey and the U.S. have both designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization.