One of the groups of people that had provided critical support for the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgents were the vigilantes and local hunters; they had been praised by all and sundry for assisting the military restore peace to Boko Haram ravaged towns in the northeast. Their heroic feat is noticeable in the media. However, little is known about how these local vigilantes played a defining and critical role in the fight against Boko Haram.
The vigilantes are usually kitted in brown paramilitary dress, with beret and booths. They have local guns. They appear alert and ready for emergency which may not be unconnected to the multiple deadly Boko Haram attacks in the past. They collaborated, and are still collaborating, with the Nigerian army in securing lives and properties in the towns. They are always battle-ready to checkmate any possible Boko Haram attack.
From Yola to Mubi, the vigilantes’ influence and power were visible, as they also manned some roadblocks just like the military and the police. They were critical to the war against terror as only last Wednesday, the vigilantes under aegis of the Civilian Joint Task Force, JTF, arrested one of the 100 most wanted Boko Haram kingpins, Jarasu Shira, on his way to Lagos. He was arrested alongside 10 other suspected members of the group; they were subsequently handed over to military authorities in Biu, Borno state.
The vigilantes’ effort in the anti-terrorism battle cannot be over-emphasised, as they had made series of arrests of top Boko Haram commanders; their trumpet was even blown in the media on how they chased Boko Haram out of captured towns, but nothing is known about how these local vigilantes could have been, without military training, fighting terrorists in such a daring manner. One of them boasted that he would not run should terrorist attack anytime. Investigations showed that the vigilantes were not only armed with guns but also with black magic also known as juju or charms.
It was revealed that the vigilantes used black magic in detecting Boko Haram members. “By merely looking at someone in the face, the vigilantes could detect a Boko Haram member, a local said.
According to different accounts by residents of Mubi, vigilantes have various means of detecting Boko Haram members. Aside using physical qualities and military interrogations, vigilantes took it even further through the use of black magic to separate the wheat from shaft.
A vigilante said they could see smoke erupting from the head of a Boko Haram member using their black magic. He said: “When screening suspects, if we use our charm on the them, smoke will come out from his head if he is a Boko Haram member.
He noted further that although other people including the suspects cannot see the smoke, they (vigilantes) can see it. This is seen as something beyond the ordinary and beyond military understanding. This was learnt to be a major factor in discovering Boko Haram members after the military take-over.
Also, another way of knowing Boko Haram members with the black magic was to put a mirror on the body of the suspect. It was gathered that if the suspect was a terrorist, blood would drip from the mirror. This was one of the ways vigilantes detected and arrested some Boko Haram suspects at checkpoints.
For their act of valour in the face of the threatening insurgency, the vigilantes enjoyed much support from the military especially in terms of welfare. A vigilante Commander in Mubi north LGA who spoke to Greennews.ng said the army provided food for their members and medical assistance to their members who sustained injury during battle. The vigilante leader further expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the Nigerian army in the war.
The use of black magic had in no small way strengthened relationship between the military and vigilantes as it was helping to achieve the common goal of defeating Boko Haram insurgency.
Irrespective of the means, the gallantry and bravery of the vigilantes in supporting the military in the anti-terrorism campaign should not go unrewarded; these are people who fought tooth and nail, risking their lives to save the north-eastern part of Nigeria from the hands of ragtag terrorists. Unfortunately, Nigeria has its own way of rewarding these heroes.