Hunters are emerging as unlikely heroes in the war against Boko Haram, especially in Adamawa State where they assisted the military in recapturing Gombi and Hong from Boko Haram as they push forward in an effort to liberate Mubi, Maiha, Michika and Madagali areas which have been annexed by the insurgents as part of their so-called ‘Caliphate.’
Many find it fascinating that mainly illiterate and untrained locals who rely on primitive methods, dane guns and clubs, could defeat a sophisticated enemy like the insurgents. And questions that follow include: ‘How could sticks and dane-guns defeat AK 47 rifles and rocket launchers?’ But for anybody who is familiar with the history of the North would know that local hunters have been warriors for centuries and their association with the bush and forests has been the key to their bravery and victory in the counter-terrorism campaign.
A hunter told Weekly Trust that some Boko Haram fighters, particularly the foreign mercenaries, use charms in their confrontation with soldiers. “I can see why Nigerian soldiers flee. The fact is that some Boko Haram fighters have strong charms that can confuse their enemies, so that is why our assistance is necessary,” one hunter said. He added that many Boko Haram fighters in Gombi and Hong fled when they realised their weapons failed to fire as hunters approached.
“We are able to contain Boko Haram because their guns do not often fire when they aim at us. That is how we captured many of them with bare hands during the last encounter,” he explained.
Suleiman Namtari, an official of the hunters association, expressed confidence that the insurgents will be defeated and called for prayers as well as government assistance, particularly in areas of logistics.
Philips James, the association’s secretary, said the hunters were committed to the war against insurgency and emphasised the need for public support. “We need the people’s support and prayers. We also need government’s sustained help in this assignment,” he added.
Chairman of the vigilante in Yola North local government area, Ahmadu Nasiru, said some of his members who were not selected to participate in the war wept profusely. He stated that several weapons were recovered from the insurgents and advised the state government to equip the group with patrol vehicles and equipment to enable them assist in maintaining peace in the state capital.
“We sent our members to the battle-front but I can tell you without fear of contradiction that we do not have a single vehicle to patrol the metropolis. The governor recently donated vehicles to the national body but the state chapter did not get even a single vehicle,” he said.
Ahmadu lamented the fact that some vigilantes could not afford to buy dane-guns and other basic tools for combating crimes. He said the battle formation was organised to provide synergy between the components, including the military, hunters, vigilante and mobile police.
Commander of youth vigilante in Adamawa State known as ‘Civilian JTF’, who did not want his name published, told our correspondent that his group was working closely with hunters and security agents in an effort to reclaim Maiha after flushing the insurgents out of Gombi and Hong. He said the joint team was making headway, stressing that he expects Mubi, Michika and Madagali to be reclaimed soon considering the success of the operation so far.
Their quiet successes and their resilience complement the efforts of the military, according to locals who are happy at the development. An IDP spoke about the emergence of hunters as heroes, and she said it is heartwarming. “It’s an unusual war our troops are fighting, with unusual circumstances, so it’s only fitting if unusual alliances help win it,” she said.