Lagos - A prominent human rights group warned against the unregulated arming of youths in the campaign to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Human Rights Monitor raised concern the Joint Task Force (JTF) was providing youth with weapons without checking their backgrounds.
It warned this would have repercussions on security in the long term.
The volunteers, also known as “civilian JTF”, have been combing Maiduguri in the Borno State capital for fleeing members of the sect after the multinational force destroyed their camps in various parts of the state.
HRM, in a statement released by its Executive Director, Festus Okoye, warned security agencies of haphazardly arming the volunteers, mostly the youth.
“The sad fact is that the Joint Task Force does not know the background of some of these youths. The JTF does not know the communities where some of them reside and their political and religious affiliation. The Joint Task Force has no data of their previous and current activities," Okoye said.
“Arming and encouraging youths from diverse backgrounds to take up arms and weapons in an unregulated manner to block roads, make arrests, beat up suspects, kill those “found guilty” and burn their houses and chase them out of town is dangerous to the rule of law and the current efforts aimed at tackling security challenges in Nigeria.”
Okoye said although it was important for civilians to assist security agencies with useful information that may lead to the arrest of those who break the law and threaten the security of the citizens, it was equally dangerous to arm them as this created fear and anxiety among citizens.
“The truth of the matter is that this version of civilian JTF roaming round the street of Borno and Yobe States are not people previously known to security agencies as law-abiding citizens.
"We are of the opinion that the Commander of the JTF must disarm this civilian JTF as their continued operation under official cover gives the impression that the security agencies have abandoned their responsibilities to an unregulated army of untrained persons with no visible means of livelihood and no permanent abode,” he added.
- CAJ News