After the cases of Boko Haram members employing women or pretending to be women to execute their malicious and deadly plans were reported to the general public, a great number of females have decided to join the ranks of the so-called "Civilian JTF" (Joint Task Force), youth volunteer groups, in the search for suspected Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri.
Women of all ages can be seen in the Maiduguri metropolis, carrying all kinds of weapons -- from swords and daggers to sticks. Along with their male colleagues, these women stop both pedestrians and vehicles and search them. The female volunteers inspect women, and male -- men. After the vehicle undergoes check and is 'certified,' the drivers are allowed to continue their journey.
Neither private nor commercial vehicles escape the checks, as the checkpoints controlled by the volunteers outnumber those of security operatives.
Halima, a 17-year-old girl, patrolling Ramat Square, says they [females] join the civilian JTF in order to be searching females, as a woman can "search any other woman anywhere and nobody can raise eyebrows." The girl adds she is not afraid at all, and that she has participated in raiding some houses at Kumshe ward. "Securing Maiduguri is now a collective responsibility, irrespective of age, gender or status. The safer the town, the better for all of us," she notes.
Saratu, yet another volunteer, says she temporarily left her job as a sales girl to participate in patrolling.
According to the reports, about 120 young volunteers -- the JTF suggested they should be called "patriotic citizens" -- stormed 'Libya,' a red spot close to Jajeri in the outskirt of Maiduguri. Security officers say the vigilantes managed to recover an AK47 rifle and some shallow graves at a house.
Venders of swords, bows and arrows, knives now experience a surge in sales in Maiduguri, as a result of high demand by the 'civilian JTF.' Before the youth groups emerged, selling such weapons in the open was impossible, but eyewitnesses say now people peddle them freely. Also, according to local hawkers, the price of swords has also gone up from N250 to N350 or more.
The Baga Market blacksmiths are also seen making knives and swords.
A legal practitioner, Usman Sani, thinks that the possession of such kind of weapons by young people should be controlled. "If authorities did not take the right measures now, we would find ourselves confronted with another serious dilemma in the nearest future," he stresses.
Lt Col. Sagir Musa, the spokesman of the JTF has called on parents to assist authorities in regulating the activities of the youth vigilante groups.