They may be known as the weaker sex but in the battle to flush out Boko Haram from Nigerian territory, they stand equal with their male counterparts. Fearless, pretty and bold, the female hunters of Adamawa State fear neither man nor woman. To them, the common enemy is not their gender but Boko Haram. Ladi is a dark-skinned young lady in her 20s. Looking at her, you would hardly believe that she possesses the boldness to confront members of the terrorist sect. In fact, you would pass her off as a young man due to her masculine features but she is in all respects a lady.
She smiles as the reporter gapes at her, wondering whether he is seeing double. But she told Sunday New Telegraph that she was motivated by the desire to join in the effort to save her nation from the rampaging terrorists. She is not alone, our correspondent gathered, as there are a number of female hunters engaged in the Civilian Joint Task Force. They are all part of a civilian vigilante coalition known as Ibn Fadlallah’s forces. Barely literate and armed with dane guns as well as bows and arrows, they risk lives helping the armed forces to hunt members of the sect in the jungles of the North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Asked why she mustered the courage to join the effort, Ladi replied: “Boko Haram’s days are numbered. We are not afraid and we are ever ready to fight them.
“Me, fear death? Never. This is because I believe that we shall all taste it someday,’’ said Ladi, with boldness etched on her face. Ladi, like other male volunteers was optimistic that, with support and motivation they would succeed. “I can assure you that, with support, encouragement and assistance we can play our own role in fighting the monster called Boko Haram.
“We need support from government and individuals to cater for our families,” she added, brandishing her dane gun. Ladi and her colleagues say they dare to confront the insurgents with the inferior weapons in their hands, vowing that, “If you are committed and have faith in God, you will succeed. We know they (Boko Haram) are using sophisticated weapons, but that will not deter us from facing them squarely. “They thought we would be afraid; never! One can kill a snake with his or her little stick; commitment, resilience and above all faith are the key factors,” she concluded. Though she is married, she declined to disclose personal details for security reasons. Ladi is part of the large army of hunters and CJTF which battled Boko Haram after it tried to install Amirs (leaders) in Maiha, a town in Adamawa State.
They foiled the move and killed several members of the sect. The civilian force also helped the armed forces to liberate some of the captured towns. After Boko Haram annexed Adamawa’s second largest city, Mubi, and renamed it ‘Madinatul Islam,’ meaning the City of Islam, it also captured Maiha in an offensive that claimed the lives of several soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel while others fled. The attack on Mubi resulted in hundreds of thousands fleeing the city for fear of further attacks. The insurgents overran the army barracks situated within the town, killed several residents, destroyed shops, churches and valuables worth billions of naira as the Nigerian troops detailed to the areas were alleged to have fled upon sighting the insurgents.
The activities of the insurgents in the state became a thing of concern, following their annexation of five local government areas of Machika, Madagali, Mubi North and South, Maiha and some parts of Hong and Gombi local government areas. Disturbed by this development, the state government, traditional rulers and some top politicians in the state came up with the idea to employ the services of ‘Yan Baka’ and ‘Yan Tauri’ (local hunters) and CJTF to fight the insurgents. Sources told our correspondent that testimonies from fleeing soldiers involved in the fight against the insurgents alleged that Boko Haram employed ‘mystical powers’ to overwhelm the Nigerian troops. They also alleged that it was one of the factors that made the soldiers to flee from the insurgents. “When we fired our guns at the insurgents, they did not die because they had mystical powers (voodoo) and kept advancing towards us. So we had no options but to flee from them,” one of the soldiers said.
A state government official involved in the recruitment of the hunters and CJTF told our correspondent that it was in order to stem the tide that the idea of drafting the local hunters allegedly versed in the use of voodoo powers came up. “We are in doubt about the sincerity of Nigerian soldiers in the whole operation, and we sense complicity as what is happening. It could not have been possible without any form of collusion, so we began to think of other options,” said a community leader in Mubi, AbdurRahman Kwacham. Afterwards, the civilian force was mobilised to tackle the insurgents. Ibn Fadlalallah’s army of local hunters, vigilantes and CJTF members were said to have been mobilised by creating alliances with towns to fortify and defend themselves against Boko Haram. “These brave warriors have promised to liberate the North-East from Boko Haram.
They are preparing and engaging in combat in Adamawa and Borno. All brave citizens have been invited to join the legions,” said a community leader who didn’t want to be named. In the first operation, the local hunters and vigilante group were reported to have overwhelmed the insurgents. They confronted the militants in their hundreds, killing dozens of the extremists and recapturing the town.
They also vowed to repel any further attacks. A Maiha resident, Mallam Sani Pella, said that before the attack on the insurgents, he saw about 10 truckloads of the local fighters heading towards Maiha. Another resident of the area, who affirmed that about 75 insurgents were killed in the battle, said there was no member of the Boko Haram sect anywhere in Maiha town as they had all retreated to Mubi, following the crushing defeat they suffered. Insiders say that as Boko Haram rushes to capture more territory, its forces are spread out thin; with as few as between 30 and 100 men holding a town. It is actually rather easy with determined effort to recover the towns and villages from them as local resistance forces have commenced, they added. Residents said the local hunters were stationed in some areas for four days, mapping out strategies on how to recapture Mubi before they finally took on the insurgents. However, the recapture of the towns by the civilian force elicited jubilation, with residents chanting songs of victory to God.
Startling Revelations There claims that the insurgents had been hypnotised by the local hunters and easily fell into the hands of the civilian force. Expressing their willingness to take the battle against terror to the hideouts of the insurgents, Adamawa State Coordinator of Civilian JTF, Alhaji Bako Ali Goni, said they were not afraid of death. “Every soul must test death and, therefore, we are not afraid,” he told our correspondent. He maintained that his group had vowed to go after the terrorists and members of his group are optimistic that with their sticks (Gora in Hausa) and other local arms, they would flush out the insurgents from their hideouts if the Federal Government gives them the go-ahead.