The Nigerian Military‘s campaign against Boko Haram has witnessed further detention of innocent people.
No one is safe in Northeastern Nigeria, especially women and children who are the soft targets of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Simultaneously, it would seem that some of the Nigerian Military’s efforts to do away with the group are perpetuating captivity. According to the New York Times, it has become a complex challenge determining who is a victim of Boko Haram and who is a sympathizer.
Tug of war between Nigerian Military and Boko Haram
The Nigerian Military have been faced with a daunting task to protect its people from Boko Haram’s claws. It is a mission of great adversity because it is difficult to tell who is aligned with the extremist group and who is a victim. Boko Haram is an advocate of bloodshed killing boys who refuse to join their cause. This leads the Nigerian army to assume that any boys and young men found alive to be tied to the group.
In places such as Maiduguri, the Nigerian Military are detaining many women and children found who they suspect to be still aligned to the group. According to Director of the Gender Equality Peace and Development Center in Maiduguri, Ann Darman, the women captured by Boko Haram are not all as innocent as one would assume. She stated that these women are used to kill people, and even they are part of the action. According to the New York Times, Darman believes that the Boko Haram detainees should be “deradicalised.”
The fear is that those who appear to have escaped the group may still be very much involved. The women of which Darman spoke are forced to marry the fighters and bear their children. Many of these are not even women but young girls as young as 10-years-old who are constantly subjected to rape and other forms of violence to a point where they may end up giving in and pledging allegiance to the group.
18-year-old, Amina Umar was captured by Boko Haram when she was 16 and forced to marry a fighter. One night she managed to escape, walking for many hours until she arrived at her sister’s house in a village not too far away. She was then spotted by a member of an anti-Boko Haram military campaign, knowing she was not from there and notified officials who sent soldiers to detain her and her sister. They were kept in a locked cell of a military facility where they were often subject to questioning. The sisters were there for about a week until they were taken to Giwa barracks where they remained for another two months and almost a week.
This is not the first case of escaped victims being captured yet again this time by members of the army. At the same time, the Nigerian Military is fighting against the group: last month they managed to free 80 women and children held captive. Interior Minister, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau, shared his pride for his army saying that Boko Haram had been “fought and won” in Nigeria’s northeastern region. Although the Lieutenant’s morale seems to be high, it is unlikely that the Nigerian Military has come as far to say that they have won this war.
Source: The New York Times