Spaces for Change’s latest report, Demolishing Foundations of Peace, found that North East Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a youth, especially a male teen. Among other findings, the study noted that young males were disproportionately targeted with violence in Borno, Kano, Yobe, Plateau and Bauchi states. Last week’s reported killing of 40 youths by security forces in Maiduguri attest to the frighteningly alarming dimension the counter-insurgency operations has assumed.
Large numbers of people, especially women vehemently refused to answer any questions bordering on the activities of the sect. All the men I interviewed, including a vocal local imam – that runs an Islamiya School in Gomari – strongly objected to questions suggesting that Boko Haram sect members were being haboured within their communities. The locals insisted that all those captured and killed by the soldiers are innocent citizens who have nothing to do with the Boko Haram sect. For instance, a week before my visit, a doctor, staff of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital was brutally murdered, alongside 11 other men by JTF soldiers minutes after a bomb exploded beside a primary school in Kaleri. The late doctor and his wife were driving past the school at the time of the incident. In line with JTF’s combat strategy of marking every human within the vicinity of an explosion site as a military target, he was among the 12 men sprayed with bullets. The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima profusely apologized for the error, and compensated grieving families. Stories of similar gaffes abound.