AFRICANGLOBE – Hundreds of Nigerian youths who launched a manhunt for insurgents in Maiduguri have taken over stop and search work from soldiers, suggesting that the volunteers are assuming more responsibilities in their efforts to help root out insurgency in Borno State.
Their involvement in search work is based on the belief that they would be able to identify insurgents faster and easier than the soldiers.
Our correspondent who went round Maiduguri yesterday reported that the young men, who call themselves ‘Civilian JTF’, organised into different groups, took positions and conducted searches on vehicles at many checkpoints around the city.
The youths were seen stationed at check points on major roads, including Babban Layi street, Dandal Way leading to Shehu of Borno’s palace, Ahmadu Bello Way to Gwange central cemetery and some parts of Bama Road. They also manned check points along roads linking Gwange I, Gwange II, Gwange III and Gwange IV, as well as in Mafoni, Shehuri South, Budum, Bolori, Umarari, Maimusari and Jiddari Polo.
The youths were seen bearing sticks at the check points, ordering motorists to stop, park and be searched in the presence of soldiers.
Since they launched their volunteer campaign against Boko Haram two weeks ago, the youths have helped facilitate the arrest of dozens of suspected sect members.
But they have come under threat of retaliation from the sect itself, which is believed to have launched reprisals and killed dozens last week.
One of the youths who spoke to our correspondent in Maiduguri yesterday said they took to stop and search in order to abort potential retaliatory attacks.
“We took this measure in order to be aborting retaliatory attacks being planned by the Boko Haram sect members who vowed to lay ambush on us like they attempted last week when they disguised as bakers conveying bags of flower meal in a J5 car,” he said.
“And when they arrived Gwange I, they pulled out their guns shooting at everywhere. So, immediately we began to hear some strange gunshots which were not those of the soldiers, we just started running towards the direction which we heard the gunshots from. And before you know it, youths in their hundreds have already gathered there, we surrounded the J5 car loaded with flower meal bags and we firstly challenged them (the insurgents) to shoot and kill us all if they could.
“Then the five suspected Boko Haram members including the driver pretended that they were just bakers looking for a bakery in the area and after they finished their fruitless talk, we asked them to come down from the car which they resisted. So, we forcefully brought them out from the J5 car in which we discovered many guns and ammunitions.
“Subsequently, we beat and tied them up, took and handed them over to the soldiers along with their guns and ammunitions. From then we suggested to the soldiers that we should henceforth be checking motorists ourselves which the soldiers agreed.”
“Similarly, our counterparts in Sabon Gari area of Gwange II ward have last night trailed and caught three Boko Haram sect members who disguised in women cloths but with God’s help, our colleagues trailed, caught and handed them over to the soldiers,” he added.
There was no immediate comment from the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri on the latest efforts by the youths yesterday, but the Presidency and military authorities had last week commended the volunteers for helping in the battle against the terrorists.
By: Ibrahim Sawab