Sunday, 27 October 2013

Confession of Boko Haram member: Why we can’t surrender

“Sometimes, I feel guilty of committing crimes against God. But our commanders always tell us that it is God’s work that we are doing. It is a terrible thing to be a member of the sect, but many foot soldiers of Boko Haram like me, cannot leave for fear of being killed.”

That was part of the confessions of a 22-years old fighter of the dreaded Boko Haram sect who was arrested on 6 October by security operatives and has since been helping them in their investigations.

The suspect, who the military in Borno State, for security reasons, simply called Omar, told journalists in Maiduguri, the state capital, last Friday, that hundreds of some of the recruited fighters, including those who had been with the sect for long, were itching to lay down their arms and embrace peace, but for the fear of being hunted and killed by their leaders.

‘I was forced into sect with threat of death’
Speaking at the Brigadier Maimalari Cantonment in Maiduguri, the Boko Haram fighter said he was forced into joining the group by his elder brother, who had been killed in a battle with military forces.

According to Omar, who confessed to have seen the weapons brought home by his late brother, the sect threatened to kill him and other members of his family, if security operatives got to know that he had seen his brother hiding weapons in their house.

Explaining how he was arrested in Damboa town, Damboa Local Government Area of the state, during a foiled attack on the local government, the suspect said: “During the attack, I was shot in the leg and my people carried me, because we do not leave our wounded behind. However, while running away from the military, they thought I had given up the ghost and there was no time for burial; thus, they left me in the bush and ran away.

“But after a while, I regained consciousness and dragged myself close to town where some children saw me and ran to report to the elders who subsequently informed the police and I was arrested.

“I was later handed over to the soldiers who brought me to Maiduguri for questioning. I was also told by the soldiers that based on my confession, I would be asked to speak with reporters.

I believe you are the people they talked about.”

Omar said contrary to the claim that the Boko Haram insurgents were being asked to take an oath or were being induced with drugs as they joined the group or when moving out to attack any place, it was pure indoctrination; as they believed what they were told that they were “working for Allah as His fingers to carry out jihad for Him.”

He said, once one joined, there was no way out as the units did a head count regularly to know those who were around and if anyone had left.

“I have seen many of my brothers who ran away brought back. I witnessed how they were slaughtered when the group went after them and arrested them. I was once a victim. I attempted to leave. In fact, I left and travelled to Lagos, but somehow, they got me back and I was to be slaughtered. But an argument ensued among our superiors, a development that led them to giving me a second chance, until my eventual arrest this time when they left me in the bush,” he said.

‘We are not fighting for God’
The young lad added that; “I cannot say that, what we are doing is the work of Allah; rather, I see us taking lives and forcefully taking what does not belong to us, which, to me, looks like banditry and not the work of Allah, even though they want us to believe that we are fighting jihad.

“I know the money we collected from people and spent, the food we burgled shops or food stores to collect and ate were nothing but robbery proceeds.

“Although I have never slaughtered anyone, each time we went out to operate, I was given AK47 riffle to shoot and kill. Those guns were brought to us by our superiors in the camps. We do not know where they got the weapons from, but we know that those who brought them used motorcycles to bring them to us, hidden in a bag or sack,” he said.


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