Residents of Old Maiduguri, Dalaram and El-Yakub communities in Jere local government areas of Borno state had today, December 20, 2021, held a town hall meeting where they discuss how to rise against the menaces of youth gang violence in their communities.
The people of Jere had by that action demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to fostering and security in their communities.
Organized and coordinated by the Center for Advocacy Transparency and Accountability Initiatives (CATAI), a Borno state-based nongovernmental organisation, the community leader had in most of 2021 been holding advocacy campaigns against the scourge of emerging trend armed violence amongst youth groups.
The activities of now trending youth groups and gangs in Maiduguri and neighbouring local government areas of Jere are a precursor to a latent disaster that may unequal the ongoing Boko Haram conflict if left untamed.
Violent fights amongst different youth groups especially during festive periods and ceremonies like weddings, birthday parties or love romance disagreements have led to the death and irredeemable injury of many young persons.
Cases of gang rape and related sexual violence and harassment have been recorded in uncountable times by these different shades of youth gangs who would brag about their “untouchable” posture in society.
It is commonplace in Maiduguri, to see different gangs pasting or inscribing the names of their gangs on walls and public places in outright demonstration of their territorial control.
When reported to the police and arrested, the youth would easily bail themselves out of trouble using a large number of monetary resources they’ve amassed through weekly contributions.
A gang member who dares to cop out of the groups is punished by death or conflicting body injuries using knives or axe.
It was against this disturbing background that CATAI with the support of some community leaders mobilized critical stakeholders to stand against a menace that may soon take over from Boko Haram.
CATAI had organized several capacity building for the community leaders and stakeholders in Jere and Biu local government areas of Borno state where the participants were drilled on the act of advocacy campaign and peace-building initiatives.
The community leaders, comprising traditional title holders, Christian and Islamic clerics, women, elders, youth leaders, and local security volunteers carried out several advocacy visits to the police, local government chairman, the state and federal legislators and traditional heads in Jere with a bid to secure their buy-in to stand and speak out against the continued existence of youth groups.
At a town hall meeting hosted by the CATAI foundation which was attended by the member representing Jere in the state house of Assembly, the local government chairman as well as the representative of the District head of Old Maiduguri, the resident brainstormed and shared experiences on the progress they have made so far in their advocacy.
Addressing the town hall meeting, the member representing Jere at the state Assembly, Honorable Ajikolo Ibrahim Khadi, commended CATAI for the initiative which he said was in sync with concerns of government even as he promised to give all the legislative backing to support the people in that regard.
Honourable Khadi, a two time House of Assembly member, who also chairs the House Committee on SGBV said stringent laws like VAPB law would soon be enacted to tackle the menace of such violence against females. He said related laws have also been brought to the house to tackle cases of hate speech as well as the menace of tricycle riders.
He noted that the Borno state government, under Professor Babagana Zulum, had also engaged thousands of youth who are being paid N20,000 monthly for rendering various community development and peacekeeping jobs.
The representative of District Head of Old Maiduguri, Ali Alhaji-Atibu, noted the move against youth gang came at the right time even as he stressed that “these gangs are very powerful and subduing them cannot be achieved in a short period of time”. He said it requires constant and sustained commitment to reduce the menace.
At the end of three hours long interactions, the town hall agreed on various measures geared towards tackling the menace of gangsters which was contained in a communique shared with The Humanitarian Times.
The communique,which signed by four representatives of the community leaders and
The communique was signed by four representatives of the community leaders, and red by Deputy Director Adult Education who
representative the Chairman Jere Local Government.
The communique stated that “The community members call on the members of Borno state House of Assembly to Fastrack the process of passing laws that will tackle Inter group fight within Old Maiduguri and the entire Jere Local Government Area to avoid the emergence of new violent groups.
“Community members call on all Agencies of Government to intensify effort on the Implementation of existing laws in tackling the issues of group fight in the various communities.
“The community call on the establishment of more skills acquisition centers within old Maiduguri community especially by both state government and local government.
“The members of the community call on the government to support startup and existing businesses across old Maiduguri and Jere.
The community members resolved to have the community leaders’ representative in police stations before granting bail to any person that partakes in Inter-group fights.
“The community members call on the need for the philanthropists to put more effort into the process of skills acquisition to reduce the number of people leaving idle.
“The Community members call on CATAI to make advocacy visit to Jere Local Government authority so as to strengthen opportunities for skill acquisition in the local government level.
“The local government should work toward the implementation of the Resolution of the Townhall meeting organized by Here Community Development Initiative.
“The community members also call on the Assenting of the VAPP law passed by the Borno state House of Assembly to reduce and address Gender-based Violence within the communities.
“Parent should intensity effort towards child up brining and training them on morale up brining.
“The community members call on Various organizations such as NGOs to identify the right beneficiaries for empowerment programs in the community.
“The community members call on security Agencies to intensify effort and strengthen night patrols within the community.
Others who signed the communique are Rev. Dauda Filibus, a Pastor Cocin Church Old Maiduguri and the Imam of Old Maiduguri, Malam Yuram.
CATAI is an NGO formed by a network of peace builders and humanitarians to help enhance effective democratic governance, citizen participation, and civic engagement in Borno state and beyond.