It is no longer news that local Vigilantes, also known as Civilian JTF (Joint Task Force), contributed greatly to the recent victory against Boko Haram terrorists in north-eastern part of Nigeria, they had been assisting soldiers in recapturing towns hitherto lost to terrorists but these heroes have been neglected by the Nigerian Government.
Greennews.ng authoritatively gathered that the Adamawa state Government had stopped paying vigilantes salaries since June 2015 after the transition to a new government.
The vigilantes’ effort in the anti-terrorism battle cannot be over-emphasised, as they had made series of arrests of top Boko Haram commanders. They were brave despite having no military training. They also manned some roadblocks just like the military and the police, a testament to the fact that these vigilantes were critical in the war.
Arguably, these vigilantes worked almost as much as the military, they resorted to using black magic (Charms) to detect Boko Haram terrorists in the region; an unprecedented move that had yielded positive result in fight against insurgency. They went through sleepless nights in their bid to securing lives and properties in the region. It’s puzzling how the government would abandon these heroic vigilantes who had done so much in fighting a national enemy.
Speaking on the neglect, the chairman of vigilantes in Mubi North Local Government Area, Adamawa state, Adamu Aliyu, said since June 2015, the Adamawa state government had stopped the payment of their monthly salaries and other benefits.
Aliyu recalled that since November, 2014, when the Nigerian army began to reclaim towns which Boko Haram terrorists had captured, the vigilantes had been assisting in the battle. He added that they fought alongside the Nigerian Army to recapture town such as; Gombi, Maiha Michika, Madagali and Mubi town, forcing Boko Haram terrorists out of these towns.
Aliyu, however said that despite their sacrifices and commitment to the fight, Government had refused to pay them salaries in the last 8 months. He said the former Governor of Adamawa state, Bala Ngilari paid vigilantes a monthly stipend of N60,000 each but the money stopped immediately current Governor of the state, Bindo Jibrilla, took over office in May 2015.
He said it had been difficult for them as vigilantes because they also have family members to feed and cater for, adding that they had left their engagements and businesses to secure the towns in collaboration with the army. Aliyu disclosed that the vigilantes also manned checkpoints and strategic locations in the town to checkmate any Boko Haram attack.
It was gathered that before insurgency, the Mubi north local government paid only 42 vigilantes a monthly stipend of N5,000 each but when insurgency started, the state government started paying them salaries. However, the story changed immediately a new governor was elected.
Aliyu who during the interview, was on duty at a checkpoint leading to neighbouring Cameroun, said he had 320 men under him and none of them is being paid except the stipends they received from the Emir of Mubi and other community leaders. “we are not being paid by either the state or local, the only money we get comes from the Emir of Mubi and some other good people of the community who appreciate our work, that is what we use in feeding our wives and children.
Asked whether the federal government paid them, Aliyu said they never received salary from the government at the centre. It was further gathered that the situation is even worse in Mubi south Local government area because the Local government had never paid the vigilantes, it was only the state government that was paying but that had stopped.
Continuing further, Aliyu added that the Nigerian Army had been helpful and supporting the vigilantes with the provision of food items for their members and medical assistance to those who sustained injury during battle. He expressed satisfaction with their relationship with the Nigerian army in the war, while commending the Army for their support.
The vigilante commander said, despite not getting salaries like before, they remained committed to the fight against terrorism and are determined to completely defeat Boko Haram.
This mind-boggling revelation questioned the sensitivity of the Governor Bindo Jibrilla-led state government especially at such a critical time where the welfare of the security men fighting insurgency cannot be handled with levity. The federal government’s commitment to catering for the welfare of people in the Boko Haram-ravaged towns and tackling poverty as a way of ending insurgency could also be questioned as ignoring the welfare of security men is tantamount to compromising the security of lives and properties.
It was time federal and state government acted and ensure that the labour of our living heroes should never be in vain by rewarding the gallantry and contribution of the vigilantes in the fight against terror.