Members of two armed civilian security groups in a recently resettled area of the North East have quit the protection service because they have not been paid in months. They are also protesting conditions that put their lives at risk, the paramilitaries say.
Kirawa, in Gwoza local government area of Borno State northeast Nigeria, was resettled in June 2022. Since then the border community between Cameroon and Nigeria remains a dangerous place and people need constant security.
At least ten members of the two groups have walked out, and dozens more are dissatisfied, they say.
As many as 40 members of the Kirawa Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and 40 members of the Kirawa joint vigilantes and hunters’ group have expressed their dissatisfaction that they haven’t been paid in over a year.
They also complain that they lack the required supply of ammunition needed to defend themselves adequately.
Aside from the civilian security groups in Kirawa, there is a Nigerian military base in the community. They frequently work together to protect the community.
According to Baba Muhammad, chairman of the Kirawa CJTF, the 80-strong team has only just been paid three months’ allowance since they started work in Dec. 2019. That is about 13 months without being paid.
Baba said “We came to Kirawa on December 14, 2019. Since that time up to date, we only received an allowance payment of three months and that is N10,000 naira for each month. We have not stopped working despite the situation.”
“Every day is a complaint day, some of us that could not bear the lack of payment have abandoned the work and travelled to Lagos to hustle. We have complained severally to our stakeholders but nothing is done,” Baba said.
“We have families and without the money, we and our families are suffering, there is nothing we could do about it,” he added.
What worries Baba and his colleagues is, their other fellows from some parts of Gwoza doing the same work get their allowance paid regularly. “Why is our case different?” Baba asked.
On many occasions whenever they wanted to leave, the Kirawa community elders have had to step in to plead with the civilian security groups to stay and protect their homes.
District Head, Abdulrahman Abubakar, told HumAngle “We have complained to the Borno State Ministry for local government affairs several times but no action has been taken all this while.”
“The only thing that is keeping these people is the fact that we plead with them all the time and sometimes share with them the little we have,” Abubakar added.
Abubakar recalled a directive promised to them by the Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum during his visit to Kirawa in June 2022.
“The Governor on that day directed and promised that all the registered members of the Kirawa CJTF, vigilantes and hunters groups should be paid their allowances, but up to date the case has not changed,” Abubakar said.
Another issue facing the groups is an inadequate supply of ammunition. Commenting on this matter, the chairman said that they only get a short supply of ammunition after two months. Even if they get it, they get exhausted on time.
“We have about fifty short rifles and each takes eight bullets. With all these numbers of rifles, we only get four packs which have a hundred bullets. Tell me, how can we share it with all the rifles we have? The worst case is, we don’t even get that on time,” Baba said.
He added that “It takes a very long time to even get that two packs, months to three months sometimes.”
According to local sources, they are surrounded by Boko Haram from all angles and especially around the Mandara mountains. This made it necessary to have full preparation for unprecedented attacks.
“Boko Haram members ply the area and launch attacks on regular bases, we exchange fire with them without adequate ammunition. For over a year now, that is how we are managing and it turned out to be so frustrating and risky,” Baba said.
Baba recalled to HumAngle that last week, the chairman of the vigilantes and hunters’ group died in the course of a gunfight. “On the day of the attack, we ran out of ammunition while exchanging bullets with Boko Haram,” He said.
Some of the security services given by the civilian security group are escorting commuters travelling between Pulka town and Kirawa, farmland protections and regular patrols of the area.
The 16 km road linking Pulka and Kirawa is dangerous and many terrorist attacks have been carried out along the road. “We escort vehicles filled with goods and commuters to and fro every day between Pulka and Kirawa. The road is risky, Boko Haram ply the surroundings and attack is imminent.” Baba said.
HumAngle has reported one of the infamous attacks carried out in Sept. 27, 2022, by terrorists in the Kirawa environs that span the Mandara mountains. They attacked commuters travelling from Pulka to Kirawa.
The attack led to the complete destruction of the CJTF’s patrol vehicle used to escort the commuters.
Since the civilian security groups started work in Kirawa, 16 months ago, two of their members were killed and three injured by gunfire during an encounter with Boko Haram.
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