YOUNG Nigeriens at the border town of Nigeria and Niger Republic, Diffa, have confessed to be recruits of the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
A member of a gang in Niger told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that Boko Haram Islamist militants from Nigeria “regularly come across the border, looking for recruits.”
However, they said they were willing to strike if given the assignment to do so, as they blamed their decision to join the militant group on their joblessness.
“They have paid Nigerian naira ($3,085, £1,835) to those of us who followed them over there,” one of the young men said.
“When they come, we inform them about what’s going on, what the security forces are up to.
“We have no jobs; some of us are still at high school, but we need money. Violence has become a form of workfor us.”
These confessions were revealed in a documentary published by the BBC, on Tuesday, after Thomas Fessy, a BBC reporter visited Diffa region in Niger Republic.
BBC made contacts with this local gang, who claimed they collaborated with Boko Haram and agreed.
According to BBC documentary, five of these young Nigeriens said they had already joined the militant Boko Haram sect, while two other members were killed in operations.
In total there are about a dozen gang members in a tiny, dark room, built with local mud-bricks.
When the reporter asked them: “If you are asked to launch an attack here, will you be ready to do that?”
Their response: “Yes, we are ready. We have no job, so, we are ready. That is what we are here for.”
When the BBC reporter asked if they agreed with Boko Haram’s reason for fighting, they answered in unison: “No. We only do it for the money.”
Arriving one by one to meet the BBC crew earlier on a street corner in Diffa, they all wore skinny jeans, bright coloured T-shirts and shiny chains, like those seen around the necks of American rappers on music videos.
Their attitude and brand new clothes made them stand out when they walked down the dusty streets of Diffa.
The fashion style is clearly inspired by Western consumerism rather than Islamist militancy.
“We break into houses for cash; sometimes we beat people for money, we steal their animals so we can eat and then we gather up and take Tramol (an opiate drug), smoke ganja (marijuana) and drink alcohol,” one of the gang members said.
The BBC reporter, giving an account of his experience at the border town, said: “At the Sahara, there is little space to take for covers from the storm at the village, as the first attack by Boko Haram by its militants meant deadly worst times for them to live in the border and the river between Niger and Nigeria.”
He said on either side of the border, people had enjoyed strong links for centuries, sharing ethnicity and culture.
The report said Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, were fearful that the group’s insurgency might spill over to their borders.
A resident told the BBC that the area was just three kilometres away from Nigeria, expressing his belief that the border would keep them safe for now.
On Lake Chad, according to the documentary, Nigerians were fleeing by boats, as the reporter quoting from a United Nations (UN) report, said the UN estimates that 500 people crossed into Niger from Nigeria every week.
One of the refugees, Mutala Suleiman, who arrived last month with his two wives and six children, narrating his story, said: “We were almost going to bed that night when we heard the gunshot.” We ran to escape. A little girl was shot as she fled the burning house.”
He said he counted 50 dead people on the streets during the last attack.
The Diffa area, according to BBC reporter, was suffering from growing refugee crisis without camps and the authorities argued they could become new targets or worse, recruitment centres for Boko Haram.
He stated in the documentary that “Boko Haram insurgents have shown they can hit the Nigerian state in different ways. While raiding villages, attacking schools and abducting children.
To check against possible attack, the threat, according to the report, means daily patrol across the borders and several attacks have been foiled over the last months, while dozens of men suspected to be linked with Boko Haram had been arrested.
“We know that Boko Haram members come across the border, but we are watching them closely,” Diffa government representative Inoussa Saouna said.
“Just last December, we arrested two dozens of men — we believe they were planning to kidnap the regional governor, the military zone commander and myself,” he added.
Military police, customs officers, as well as national guards conduct daily patrols along the porous border to mitigate the threat.
The border town On paper, the border is supposed to be secured by joint patrols with soldiers from both countries. However, they are yet to start.
Niger’s security forces are receiving training, logistics and intelligence support from both the United States and France.
Most of the border between Niger and Nigeria is naturally drawn by the Komadougou Yobe River.
On either side of it, people have enjoyed strong links for centuries, sharing ethnicity, culture and living off the cross-border trade.
At the Bosso border point, many people cross on foot through water knee-high as the river is at its lowest level in the hottest month of the year.
It allows motorbikes and cars to drive through easily too.
Most cars showing Nigerian number plates come from Borno State bearing the slogan “Home of peace”.”
The UN refugee agency said more than 50,000 people had now crossed into Niger, fleeing the relentless violence.
The many lake islands are now home to thousands and a lot of people, like Mourtalla Souleymane, have made it to the trading post of Krikri on Niger’s shore.
But how many more people can one of the poorest countries in the world take in? Borno State has a population of five million 10 times more than Niger’s Diffa region.
The UN refugee agency said it would try to build new homes and expand existing neighbourhoods rather than setting up camps.
In a report published this month, the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group noted that Boko Haram has “resorted to forced conscription and recruiting criminals and thugs, paying them for attacks.”
Troops uncover Boko Haram’s operational tricks Troops fighting insurgency in the north eastern part of the country have uncovered a trick of members of the Boko Haram group, which they use to disguise, with their vehicles unable to be detected from the air.
Top security sources disclosed to the Nigerian Tribune authoritatively that the insurgent group made use of used oil and sand to coat the body of the vehicles which they used in their attack.
According to the source, this made them invisible in the air during bombings by the Nigerians Air Force.
The sources disclosed that the essence of the gimmick was to make the Boko Haram vehicle invisible from the air, as they would look like ordinary ground.
The sources disclosed that this was one of the major problems being faced by the Air Force during their operations as these vehicles could not be picked from the air.
However, the lid was blown open by one of the Boko Haram suspects who was involved in the local technology and during investigations, he confessed that the method was used to disguise as the Air Force planes flew over their areas.
The suspect said with the trick, the group had been able to survive a number of bombings from the Air Force.
The top security source revealed that the method was uncovered when a large number of the Boko Haram vehicles were captured and were found to be coated with the used-oil and sand.
In a related development, there are strong indications that the state of emergency in the three north eastern state of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, which ended last Saturday may be extended by another three months, after the meeting of all state governors today.
According to a top military source, the extension would afford the troops the opportunity to mop up all their operations in the area.
The sources disclosed that if the state of emergency was not extended, the country would be back to the dark days when the terrorists held sway in those areas of the country.
The source added that the military had already started pushing for the extension of the state of emergency, which was their presentation at their last security meeting.
The extension, the source revealed, would afford the military the opportunity to consolidate on the gains made so far and end the insurgency in the country. BBC