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28.09.2021 Featured ‘I Did It to Survive’ — Confessions of a 14-Year-Old Boko Haram Recruit Just Before His Death

Published 28th Sep, 2021

By Abdullah Tijani

When Adamu Abubakar and his colleagues attached to Operation Hadin Kai, an army counterinsurgency operation in the North East, got to Borgozo village after a terrorist attack four months ago, they met the hamlets ransacked and the residents scattered.

Narrating his experience as a soldier at the forefront of the war against Boko Haram, Abubakar told FIJ his attention was drawn to Madu, a five-year-old boy who had just witnessed terror unleashed on his village.

READ ALSO: IED Planted by ISWAP Fighters Kills 7 Soldiers, 4 Vigilantes in Borno

He took the child, alongside other survivors, to a safe community in Mainok, where they now reside.

“Like thousands of other kids in Nigeria caught in the conflict,” Abubakar said, “violence has stopped the child’s studies. Thousands of children were deprived of their childhood due to conflicts they did not choose to be a part of.”

READ ALSO: Boko Haram Commander Who Killed Soldiers in Gwoza Surrenders to Army

Nigeria is estimated to have more than 20 million out-of-school children, out of which 13.2 million are victims of Boko Haram violent attacks in the North East.

USED BY TERRORISTS, DIED A CAPTIVE

Unlike Madu who was rescued by soldiers, Bukar, 14, was not so lucky. He lived as a terrorist and died a captive, Abubakar narrated.

Bukar was one of the children forcibly recruited by Boko Haram to attack villages. Before agreeing to join the terrorists, their leaders tied him to a tree, soaked him with petrol and threatened to burn him alive.

In 2018, he was caught by the Nigerian Army after engaging in a fight along Damasak Forest, a terrorist hideout in Borno State. During the clash, he suffered a wound that cost him his life. But before he died, he narrated how he joined the terrorist group.

READ ALSO: Police in Ekiti ‘Beat Up’ Journalist For Defending Arrested Student

“Many people who refused to fight were killed in our presence,” he was said to have recounted. “They said, ‘If you refuse to fight for God, we will kill you like we killed others’. To survive, I had to do it. It is the worst thing that can happen to any human.”

Since 2017 when he was deployed to the North East to fight the insurgents, Abubakar has witnessed several attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, but he is more concerned about the impacts of the conflict on children.

“We will never forget the brutality of Boko Haram,” he said. “Borno children are growing up in a blood-ridden community. They live in fear in their country.”

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Published 28th Sep, 2021

By Abdullah Tijani

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