Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
As the three-day fasting programme proclaimed by the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Elkanemi, commenced Thursday, thousands of youths trooped to the streets of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, to protest the siege laid to the region by the Boko Haram terrorist and to indicate their willingness to engage in efforts to reclaim the state.
The youths marched from the popular Ramat Square Ground at the centre of the town into major streets and finally called at the Shehu’s Palace where they went to seek the his blessings and fatherly advice.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, the coordinator of Civilian JTF, Abba Aji Kalli, said more youths of the state had volunteered to go after the insurgents even if they were not well armed, expressing optimism that with their sticks (Gora in Hausa) and other local arms they will raid all terrorists hideouts and do battle with the insurgents if given permission by the federal government.
Kalli added that the youths were now more determined, drawing motivation from the support and assurances received from retired military men, local hunters and other patriotic citizens who have expressed their willingness join the group to end the atrocities perpetrated by boko haram terrorists in the North east.
While expressing disappointment over President Goodluck Jonathan’s lack of support for the group, Kalli said the group which is non-political and non-religious will not be deterred as it is determined to work with the military to end insurgency in the region.
Earlier, the Shehu of Borno commended the effort of the civilian JTF in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency, saying the emergence of the group has helped in dislodging the sect out of Maiduguri and its environs.
He, however, tasked the protesting youths, mainly members of the vigilante group, to always abide by the rule of law in the course of discharging their civic responsibilities.
“I want to thank you for this visit and the effort you are collectively and voluntarily doing in order to fight Boko Haram who are bent in not only destroying our social and economic structures, but also killing innocent lives of our citizenry. I want to also appeal to you that you should desist from politics, religious or ethnic considerations while discharging your duties to your fatherland,” he Shehu charged.
He urged them to ensure that they work hand-in-hand with security agencies at all times and always inform them of their plans.
In the last three weeks, some towns including Damboa, Gamboru Ngala, Bama and Banki were attacked by the terrorist group with some either captured or destroyed with many civilians killed and several thousands of people displaced.