Boko Haram intensifies recruitment of children as child soldiers after suffering setbacks against the Nigerian Military
By: Zagazola Makama
The Islamist State of the West African Province armed extremist group operating in the Lake Chad Basin, have intensified the recruitment of children as fighters after suffering divastating set backs from the Nigerian Military.
The recruitment and use of child soldiers by the Boko Haram faction Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) was widely known. However, it’s rival faction, the has been doing the same across the shores of the LakeChad following the recent mass elimination of ISWAP top leaders and fighters in some of their hideouts by the Nigerian Military.
Zagazola Makama, a Security Analyst and Counter Insurgency Expert in the Expert in the North East said that other factors that led to the desperate recruitment drive included ISWAP clashes with JAS Boko Haram which triggered surrendering of morethan 50,000 members’ to the Nigerian authorities as well as other factors which led to mass desertion of fighters.
The history of child soldiery began in 2016 when children between 3 year-old and above are being conscripted right under an influence of a cleric who disguised under the pretext of teaching them Arabic education.
They will later undergo combat and non combat training in the group’s radicalisation camps known as "Darul Quran". In the first instance, they are only sent on suicide missions but later they began using them as combatant fighters.
According to intelligence reports, the ISWAP terrorists through the "Darul Ilm and Darul Qur'an" Institutions have trained hundreds of child soldiers through its subsidiary known "Albahrul Islam, an ISIS supported institute in Somalia.
So far, they graduated morethan 2,000 children militants from the African continent who underwent combat, Non-combat operations, bomb making, martial arts as well as other weapon handling technical trainings for six months.
In January 2022, the institute established if training camps in office in KURNAWA, Arge, Metele and Tumbum Allura with its head office at KAYOWA in Abadam local government area.
In February 2022, morethan 200 of the newly graduated child soldiers from Lake Chad were deployed as mercenaries to Mali and Niger to form alliance with the Islamic State of the Greater Sahel to wage campaign of terror under the supervision of the ISIS Central Command.
Major General Christopher Musa Musa, The Theartre Commander Operation Hadin Kai, said that the concription of children by Boko Haram/ ISWAP was one of the driving force of attrocities.
Musa said that the recruitment of under aged children was a war crime under international humanitarian law.
He said that the recruitment of children is also destroying the society and robbing them of their future, noting that women were used as sex slaves while the children were forced to commit attrocities against their wish.
"When we arrest them sometimes they spent three days without knowing what they are diong because they are being administered under the influence of hard drugs. This was why they are not afraid to die. So even if you shoot a Boko Haram of ISWAP he doesn't feel the pain immediately,"he said.
"Since 2009, Boko Haram has killed 350,000 mostly women and children in northeast Nigeria and displaced over three million Adamawa, Yobe, and the restive Borno state. End.