Over 4,000 insurgents desert Boko Haram – Institute for Security Studies
Charles Nwoke, North-East, Nigeria
April 24, 2021
Institute for Security Studies says, more than 4,000 Boko Haram terrorists have abandoned the Islamist group, signaling a huge shrink in the rank and file of the extremists.
The fleeing Boko Haram terrorists from the four Lake Chad Basin countries (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria) are leaving for various reasons which include safety concerns, the report stated.
Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations have been terrorizing and tormenting the Lake Chad Basin countries for over a decade.
The unending terror war has displaced thousands of people of the four countries.
The violence has equally crippled economic activities in the once-booming fish market in the region.
Thousands of nationales of the troubled countries have been abducted by the terrorists and uncountable persons killed.
According to the 28-page report, while some of the terrorists willingly joined the terror group, others were conscribed or kidnapped and held captive in Boko Haram strongholds.
The report has it that although accurate figures were quite hard to get, their data suggests at least 2,400 desertions in Chad, 1,000 in Nigeria, 584 in Cameroon, and 243 in the Niger Republic.
The report partly read, “Motives for leaving Boko Haram include individual circumstances, safety concerns, and the groups’ internal dynamics, among others.
“On the individual level, some people disengage because their expectations – based on religious ideals or economic opportunities – have not been met.
“For others, poor living conditions in the camps are a factor. The exposure to intensifying military offensives such as airstrikes by Lake Chad Basin countries and the effective deployment of the Multinational Joint Task Force make the situation untenable.”
The report also revealed that the terrorists impose harsh restrictions on members, along with permanent surveillance and severe punishment for those suspected or convicted of digressing from the groups’ principles and dictates.
“These rules include ‘immorality’, stealing, drug abuse, etc. Within the group, the uneven application of rules fosters a sense of injustice. In some cases, the death penalty is applied. Inter-faction rivalries and violence have also caused people to leave.”
It further revealed that the uncertainty surrounding the fate of persons who dumped Boko Haram jihadists war discourages others from taking such decision.
“The third problem is that communities aren’t centrally involved in reintegration processes even though they facilitate disengagement and are the first point of contact for ex-Boko Haram associates,” the report stated.”
Meanwhile, the report recommended that desertions need to be effectively managed to ensure the safety of the deserters.
“The way in which ex-Boko Haram associates are received and screened must be predictable and based on standard reception screening-profiling mechanisms.
“Regional standards and protocols along with enabling legislation should guide demobilization in the four Lake Chad Basin countries.
“Specific policies on the role of women and children in violent extremism are also needed. To build societal resilience to groups like Boko Haram, community participation should be prioritized throughout the rehabilitation process, including design, implementation, and evaluation.
“Through cooperation and sharing lessons, countries in the Lake Chad Basin region can develop national and regional strategies that work.”
The Institute describes itself as a research-focused African organization committed to human security on the continent.
A researcher at the Lake Chad Basin Institute for Security Studies, Teniola Tayo, while commenting on the report, said the various countries concerned have welcomed the report.
She said, “Yes we had a closed dissemination webinar with stakeholders engaged in DDR in the four countries. They all welcomed the findings.”
Tayo said her organization will be exploring ways to follow up with the countries involved, one after the other.
Another official of the organization, Malik Samuel, when he was asked about the accuracy of their figures, stated that the figures were official and correct.
He said, “The figures of deserters quoted in the report were obtained from government authorities in the region. For instance, the figures from Nigeria were obtained from Operation Safe Corridors.”
Samuel said the major problem identified during the research was the difficulty of accurate figures of deserters because some tried to leave the group and later joined the organization again without government intervention.
“In these cases, you see that it is difficult to get the actual numbers of deserters,” he added.