Borno NGO trains community leaders on countering extremism with dialogue, advocacy    

This is happening at a time when youth gang violence and extremism are becoming order of the day amidst rising fear in communities hosting repentant Boko Haram 

Local community members at the two-day training by CATAI in Maiduguri. Photo: Kareem/The Humanitarian Times 

Center for Advocacy, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (CATAI) has last week concluded a two day separate training on deployment of dialogue as an effective tool for mitigating extreme violence among youth for selected community stakeholders in Biu an Jere local government areas of Borno state, northeast Nigeria. 

CATAI, a Maiduguri-based NGO, on Friday, concluded a two-day training for 60 participants drawn from Jere local government area of Borno state on how to deploy dialogue and strategic advocacy to manage rising cases of  violence, religious extremist and other related social vices amongst the youth. The training was a second phase after a similar one was conducted in Biu local government recently. 

It is expected that the trainees would use knowledge gained in boosting their already existing desire to promote peace in their localities

The Humanitaria Times can authoritatively report that Maiduguri town as a whole is beginning to witness the prevalence of youth forming gangs through which some perpetrate violence in neighbourhoods. Though some of the gangs had informed in a recent publication by The Humanitarian Times that their squad has a non-violent agenda, it is believed by many opinions that most of the crimes committed these days in Maiduguri are committed by these types of gangs. 

Abubakar Sadiq, the CEO and top lead of CATAI said Biu and Jere were selected for the training after it had conducted a community mapping workshop through which the two local governments were identified to have flashpoint neighbourhood where such violence were being perpetrated. 

“The training is meant for a USAID supported project for promoting civil participation in a community peacebuilding programme, which is aimed at ensuring that people are not infiltrated by violent extremists especially the expected post-insurgency era; and this is done by setting up dialogue mechanism to ensure social cohesion in communities,” Mr Sadiq said. 

“We observed a certain level of violence and rising social vices and, to some extent, rising cases of extremism that has to do with religion.”

“And this training and the whole initiative is very important because it is designed to address the level of infiltration just as we now have communities hosting repentant Boko Haram and so on.” 

CATAI said two wards in each of the two LGAs, and three communities from each of the wards, were the focus areas. 

“In Jere, we are implementing the Old Maiduguri ward, Dalaram and Elyakub Community; In Biu, we are implementing Yawi ward, in Filin Jirgi, Tashan  Danfulani. We have 50 people who are trained from each of the local governments in the area community dialogue process in countering violent extremism.”

After the training the NGO set up six community peace governance platforms across the two LGAs whose role is to coordinate and  conduct advocacy, while ensuring that the key issues identified as anti-peace are addressed squarely.

Youth Gangs and Squads Proliferation 

CATAI officials and participants at the training had expressed grave concern over the epidemical spread of gang culture in Borno state. 

“The emergence of youth groups who are being formed within some of these communities whereby members tasked themselves with levies for resource mobilisation with which they procure non-ballistic weapons to inflict violence or by defending themselves, Mr Sadiq said.”

“These gangs are becoming so powerful because they now mobilise resources through crowdfunding that runs into millions of Naira and they use the resources to bail themselves from security personnel whenever they are arrested.”

“It is so bad that members who want to leave the gang are maimed or killed. And prominent amongst these dangerous gangs are groups like ‘7-Low-key’, ‘202’ etc.”

One of the participants at the training, Hajiya Ammah, from the Old Maiduguri suburb, said the training has provided them with adequate capacity with the technical know-how on how to tackle the emergent security challenges in their society.

Ba’a Lawan one of the community leaders from Jere local government noted that CATAI  has succeeded in shedding light on the dark areas of minds concerning how to tackle the rising societal problems in their communities. 

“We have learnt a lot and we hope to implement our new skills in seeing how we can promote peace in our communities like Elyakub, Madinaturi, Old Maiduguri and Dalaram,” he said 

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