In a bid to rid the state of the continuous and ravaging Boko Haram menace that has paralyzed regular activities in Borno, troops fighting insurgency have recruited the wives of volunteers security outfit, popularly known as civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) to help fish out women aiding the Boko Haram sects.
LEADERSHIP reports that although the military has made progress in restoring law and order in the state, the rate insurgents use women, sometimes their wives, to carry arms and gather information on the operations of security operatives, was a source of worry.
The military spokesman, Lt-Col. Sagir Musa, and the police public relations officer, DSP Gideon Jubrin, could not be reached for confirmation of the development as at press time because of the absence of telecommunication services in the state.
However, several sources have reiterated that to avoid being accused of harassing innocent women, the military thought it wise to use wives of civilian JTF to search suspected female insurgents in Maiduguri metropolis and other parts of the state where the group men still carry out attacks.
Maiduguri residents woke up early Friday to another episode, when at Jimtilo village, on the outskirts of Maiduguri metropolis, two bodies of suspected Boko Haram insurgents disguised in women’s dresses were found dumped along the Maiduguri-Kano road.
The incident was the second time that such suspected terrorists posed as women have either been arrested or killed. The first was in Gwange ward of the same Maiduguri metropolis where six Boko Haram suspects in female dresses armed with AK 47 rifles were arrested and killed by troops.
They were caught by the youth at Jimtilo, about eight kilometres from the western entry point to Maiduguri, while on their way to Maiduguri to unleash terror on the residents.
Eye witnesses say the insurgents covered themselves with veils and were on their way to carry out a deadly attack on some parts of the metropolis.
Security operatives said that the engagement of the civilian JTF, also known as Yan Gora, and their wives to search women and check houses where the insurgents hide had paid off, as hundreds of women bearing arms have been arrested.
Recently, some of the women were caught with AK 47 rifles on their backs covered with their veils (himar). Others were allegedly arrested in public places such as markets by the volunteer youth and their wives.
Military sources say that some of the women concealed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on either backs as if they were carrying their babies to beat security checks.
Some of the women arrested in their homes, had guns and ammunition covered with grains in plastic buckets and sacks. During interrogation, they said their husbands kept the items, claiming ignorance of them being Boko Haram members.
A few of them further confessed that they were informants and ran errands for insurgents who paid them between N5,000 and N50,000 depending on the mission and the location for the delivery of the guns and IEDs.
The women also disclosed that they were forced to engage in such acts, as the insurgents usually threaten to wipe out their families if they failed to carry out the mission.
A civilian JTF member who spoke said “Our wives know how to subject them (female insurgents) to rigorous stop-and-search; pedestrians, motorists, motorcycle riders and their passengers. Nobody is exempted from such searches. When the soldiers were conducting the search, it generated a lot of controversy as married women protested against it. Also, women were rarely seen outside for social events such as weddings and birthdays.
“This is why we introduced female civilian JTF to search women’s hand bags, himar (veils), stomachs, backs and even their thighs. Sometimes, women who appear very dangerous are ordered to kneel down and our wives often found rifles on their backs. Some are even asked to put down their babies for proper search and they do so without any resistance,” he said.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP, one Halima Yar Fulani on duty at Baga Road civilian JTF checkpoint, near the Baga Road International Fish Market, said: “Some of these useless women Boko Haram insurgents are involved in the dirty acts because of poverty. It is either because they have lost their husbands who were insurgents or are orphans because their parents were killed and have none to cater for them.”
She added that “some of them may be into it because they don’t know the danger associated with it. Illiteracy and poverty could also account for what they are doing because I don’t see any reason why a woman should be involved in this ugly activity. Anything can happen as it does happen to them. So, they have to face the music alone.”
Another female civilian JTF in Polo JIddari area disclosed that “These women do carry guns, bombs and ammunition for their husbands or for money as they often confess to us. We have arrested some of them here and in some places like Customs Market, Monday Market and Gomari areas in possession of poisons, IEDs and guns.”