Civilian Joint Taskforce In Peace Initiative The Role Of Borno Youths In Bama LGA, Borno State

Project and Seminar Material Under Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

Civilian Joint Taskforce In Peace Initiative The Role Of Borno Youths In Bama LGA, Borno State


This study investigates civilian joint taskforce in peace initiative: the role of Borno youths in Bama Lga, Borno state. The study is qualitative and adopts rapid ethnographic research design and qualitative data collection methods. Multistage sampling was used to ensure that the right persons with the required knowledge and experience were included in the study. Data for the study were thus generated through In-Depth Interviewing (IDI), Key Informant Interviewing (KII), and Focus Group Discussion (FGD), and all the data were logically connected in the analysis section to discern broad patterns. The findings of this study revealed that the rise of CJTF is multifactorial. The study revealed that the factors that precipitated the rise of CJTF among the youths vary with time, place, and situation. The key motivating factor were the widespread killings and destruction of property by the Boko Haram, and the counter-attacks and destruction by the military which also adversely affected several communities.

Table of Content

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Purpose of the Study
  • 1.4 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Scope of the Study
  • 1.7 Organization of The Study

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Conceptual Review
  • 2.2 Theoretical Review
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Sources of Data
    3.3 Population of the study
  • 3.4 Sample Size and Sampling Techniques
  • 3.6 Methods of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Analysis and Result Presentation

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Data Analysis
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.5 Discussion of findings

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • 5.4 Recommendations for further study
  • References
  • Appendix

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The Borno youths began their resistance first, as an unorganised group known as Yan Gora (Youths with sticks), their emergence was spontaneous. According to Oarhe (2013:65) in reaction to Boko Haram insurgent’s activities, the Federal Government deployed the Military Joint Task Force (MJTF), but unfortunately, the MJTF could not easily differentiate between the insurgents and the innocent youth roaming the streets in towns of Borno State, as the insurgents were then living among the people while perpetrating their violent activity. The MJTF resorted to dragnet arrests and many innocent youths, as well as the insurgents, were arrested and sometimes executed. The youth of Borno State, in particular, became trapped between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea.
The inability of the MJTF to distinguish between insurgents and non – insurgents, precipitated the emergence of “Yan Gora” (Youths with sticks), “Borno Youth Vanguard” who later metamorphosed in what is now popularly known as “Civilian Joint Task Force” (CJTF)”. To save themselves and their communities, the youths rose to help in identifying members of Boko Haram hiding amongst the people in the society, and sometimes they captured and handed them over to the Military Joint Task Force. According to Idris, Ibrahim, and Sawab, (2014) who explained that observers believed that the alleged “brutality” coming from the MJTF troops coupled with extreme hardship caused by the declaration of State of Emergency prompted youths in Maiduguri to rise fearlessly against Boko Haram sect members by cobbling together what would be known today as ‘Civilian JTF’. As a society, the government and the military realised the relevance and crucial nature of the role of the Yan Gora, they were gradually structured into what is now called the Civilian JTF.

According to Mustapha (2013), the main duty of the Civilian JTF is to assist law enforcement agencies in their job of providing security to society. This informs why they sometimes provide intelligence information, join the military at combating Boko Haram insurgents at checkpoints, and also get involved in humanitarian services to the victims of insurgent attacks. Idris, Ibrahim, and Sawab (2014) described Civilian JTF as thousands of youth who conquered their fear and armed themselves with sticks, swords, machetes, bows, and arrows and in rare occasions “Dane guns” (locally made guns) and joined the war against Boko Haram insurgent’s activities. They come from all walks of life, while hundreds of ‘Civilian JTF’ members are illiterate, there are few who have Degrees, Diplomas and NCE certificates, and some are into all kinds of business, etc.

As Civilian JTF, they played several roles including forming a fighting vanguard in combat support operations with the military against Boko Haram Insurgents. They understood the terrain and therefore were able to guide the military and helped in the fight to defeat Boko Haram insurgents. They also supported non-combat support operations like the stop and search, guarding Mosques and Churches, and identification of members of Boko Haram hiding amongst the members of the society. Though the Civilian JTF started as a non-combat supporters group, playing the role of intelligence gathering and assisting the military to identify and capture Boko Haram members, it has long been drawn into combat support operations along the Military. The role they play in both combat support and non-combat support operations has assisted in restoring normalcy in many communities and towns in Borno State. The Civilian JTF fight against Boko Haram insurgency is an act of restoring and maintaining the long-cherished cultural heritage of peaceful coexistence. Their effort has helped recapture villages and ensured that normalcy returned to communities, helped rescue abducted girls, children, and women (Bamidele, 2016). He also noted that CJTF has ensured that their communities were safe, socio-cultural activities most ensured. Without the CJTF, many communities would have been routed from their normal socio-cultural life perhaps into camps or other communities as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Despite the positive role played by the Civilian JTF, yet like the regular army, they are accused of abuses as well: “the CJTF has been accused of abuses, including slaughtering men beside a mass grave, reckless driving, extortion, substance abuse, diverting food destined for starving families and beating men and subjecting women and girls to systematic sexual abuse and exploitation in camps (Ja’afar, 2016: 12)”. Similarly, Idris, Ibrahim and Sawab, (2014) also noted that many people including government and security operatives praise them, some are calling for the regulation of their activities to curtail their excesses. This study examined the problem of how the members of society see the role of the Civilian JTF in restoring peace and order in the State at large. In all the activities they are involved in, is what the study wants to know or find out, how does society view them? Are they helpful or are they a nuisance? Are they what various studies claim they are? Are they as helpful as they are said to be? Are they resisting culture change or are they perpetrating similar atrocities like the Boko Haram insurgents they fight against? And finally, what do the people have to say about the activities of the Civilian JTF?

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) which emerged to augment the effort of Military Joint Task Force (MJTF) has been accused of overstepping their bounds, their youthful age, the low literacy level, their unemployment status, and very little economic engagement have made scholars and even the general public to raise questions about them. Consequently, there are two prominent divergent positions among the people of Borno State on what constitutes the Civilian Joint Task Force. Some regarded them as heroes, who were assisting the military in providing the security to lives and properties to Borno State. However, others considered them as nuisance expressing fear of future disaster. Many believe that it will eventually become a problem for society if the government does not rein them in now. This study will look at how the activities of Civilian JTF have affected public perception. Perhaps like some have argued, training them, engaging them in meaningful activities, or even incorporating them into the existing security operatives may help them avoid constituting a menace in the future.

The war against Boko Haram insurgents relies on the participation of the Youths as Civilian JTF in both combat support and non-combat support operations and restoring cultural heritage. The Military JTF is not familiar with the terrain and cannot differentiate between innocent citizens and insurgents. They require the help of the Civilian JTF during combat to identify hideouts and inroads to hideouts, without which most of their operations will fail. Civilian JTF becomes invaluable when it comes to intelligence gathering, they know the language, they know the people, they can obtain information through informal links and this is valuable to the fight against Boko Haram insurgency. Without the organised resistance and support of the Civilian JTF, the war against insurgency in Borno State and the North East at large will suffer setbacks. If the success of military operations depends on the Civilian JTF, it also goes that the operations of the Civilian JTF rely on the people, to both offer intelligence and human resources. What the people think about the Civilian JTF will determine whether they get needed support from society. While the government and the media have sung hero’s songs for the Civilian JTF, reports are beginning to emerge showing the public disdain of some of their practices (Agbiboa, 2015; Okoye, 2015; Center for Civilians in Conflict, 2018).

All said and done, the problem this study investigates is the community perception of the Role of youths JTF in peace initiative. The legitimacy of Civilian JTF will depend on what the people they serve say about them. The Centre for Civilians in Conflict (2018) noted that community members have reported extrajudicial killings carried out by some youth of the Civilian JTF, extortion, sexual harassment, intimidation, drug peddling, and criminality have also been reported. They argued that many people now fear what the Civilian JTF may metamorphose into in the future if the government does not take drastic action now. The questions that emerge out of this scenario are; is the Civilian JTF seen as people helping in the fight of resistance or are they seen as people taking advantage of the menace created by Boko Haram insurgents? Who and what are the Civilian JTF in the eyes of the people of Borno state?

Several studies have been carried out on Civilian JTF, though not as numerous as that on the Boko Haram insurgency. Among the studies done so far on the Civilian JTF, most of them had focused on the role of the Civilian JTF in combating insurgency in the North-East Nigeria (Odomovo, 2014; Bamidele, 2016). Many saw it as a protest or reactionary measure against insurgency (Kolo, 2014; Agbiboa, 2015), some have looked at their origin (Idris, Ibrahim and Sawab, 2014; Agbiboa, 2015), others on the menace the Civilian JTF is becoming a future disaster (Malik, 2015).

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This study aims to investigate civilian joint taskforce in peace initiative: the role of Borno youths in Bama LGA, Borno state.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

This study seeks to assess the emergence of the civilian joint taskforce in peace initiative: the role of borno youths in Bama Lga, Borno State and restoring cultural heritage (of peaceful coexistence) in Borno State, Nigeria.

Specifically, the study pursued the following objectives:

  1. Examine the reasons for the youth joining and the emergence of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Borno State;
  2. Explore the views of the people of Borno State on the Role of youths Joint Task Force (CJTF) in peace initiative culture of violent change through combat support activities in Borno State;
  3. Assess the opinions of community members/stakeholders on the non-combat support operations of the CJTF, in Borno State;
  4. Identity the effects of Civilian Joint Task Force on restoring affected cultural heritage in Borno State;
  5. Evaluate the opinion of community members/stakeholders on the behaviour of youth of the Civilian JTF concerning cultural expectations

1.4 Research Questions

The study seeks to answer the following questions.

  1. What are the reasons for youths joining and the emergence of Civilian Joint Task Force CJTF in Borno State?
  2. What are the views of the people of Borno State on the role of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in peace initiative culture of violent change through combat support activities in Borno State?
  3. What are the opinions of community members/stakeholders on non-combat support operations of the CJTF in Borno State;
  4. What are the effects of the Civilian Joint Task Force on restoring affected cultural heritage in Borno State?
  5. What are the views of community members/stakeholders on the behaviour of youth of the Civilian JTF concerning cultural expectations?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings of this work may contribute to the understanding of the cultural dimension of the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency menace and the role played by CJTF in restoring peace and shared cultural values. Its contribution in additional literature focuses on not just the socio-economic effect of the activities of CJTF in reaction to Boko Haram activities, but also looks at how their activities are helping to restore peace and cultural practices distorted by the activities of the Boko Haram. The findings may open up a whole new perspective to the conflict; the cultural impact of violence and conflict.

1.6 Scope of the Study

Conflict is a global phenomenon; this research looks into the community perception of the Role of youths JTF in peace initiative, in Borno state, Nigeria. The study is concerned with Civilian JTF, affected community members/stakeholders of the selected communities. The scope of the study was limited to Bama LGA

1.7 Organization of the Study

This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology and study area. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

This study was anchored on a four-pronged objective. The findings on these objectives have been presented, what remains is the conclusion to be drawn from the findings on these objectives, that is what this section is set out to do.

First, the study found out that there is no single mono-causal path to the rise of the youths in Civilian JTF as we have it today. The Civilian JTF began as Yan Gora and metamorphosed into a state recognised and supported security institution. With its metamorphosis came changes in its operations and perhaps even its effectiveness. The Yan Gora was a child of circumstance, it never existed, it was not planned, it was a mass movement of young people who were fed up with devastations going on around them and they decided to pick up whatever weapon they can lay their hands upon to fight back. Yan Gora is a child of circumstance, but this cannot be said of the Civilian JTF, the institutionalised version of Yan Gora. In some places like Magumeri LGA, the Yan Gora was forced upon the communities by the Military who had seen its success in other places like Maiduguri. The rise of Yan Gora was not spontaneous for all locations like it was for Maiduguri. Yan Gora from the finding of this research work was a mass movement for survival, as the youths faced death in two fronts; The insurgents from behind and the Military in front. They took side with the Military and they fought for their survival and the survival of their communities. Beyond the formation of the Yan Gora by circumstance, in some communities, they formed it to protect their communities from planned attacks by insurgents.

The study also looked at the activities of the Civilian JTF, the study revealed that the Civilian JTF engaged in both combatant and non-combatant activities. Within the combatant activities, the Civilian JTF carried offensive and defensive activities. When the Yan Gora emerged, most of their activities were offensive as data revealed, they went in search of the insurgents, arrested them and handed them over to the Military, they joined the Military in combatant operations in the forest, they had sticks, cutlasses, local guns, bows, and arrows, among others. In their non-combatant posture, the Civilian JTF served as a guide to the Military and to the people they served as a protection force. They would guide the Military through terrains unfamiliar to them, they would give intelligence reports that help the Military outmaneuver the insurgents, they will protect public places like markets, worship places, schools, and office premises. They also provided an escort to people moving from one location to another and those who need to go into the bush to farm or collect firewood or carry out other economic-related activities. The study concludes that Civilian JTF has come to become part of every aspect of the social fabric of Borno society, they provide protection and they serve as a fighting force.

The Civilian JTF have facilitated trade and rebuilding of destroyed communities. They provide security in markets, making it possible for people to return to their businesses, and for society to thrive, they escort people willing to return to their liberated communities and provide security for them against possible attacks. They keep watch and search incoming vehicles and strangers into communities they guard. They restore confidence in people to live and work in their communities where insurgents once held sway. In this, they strengthen the security of communities of Borno and make them habitable.

Having done all, the people the Civilian JTF serves, are beginning to have doubts and fear that they may further metamorphose into something dangerous to the society they vowed to protect. In finding out the perceptions of community members about the Civilian JTF, the study discovers that the ‘Yan Gora’ who were praised for their valiant feats in the fight against insurgents has metamorphosed into the institution of the Civilian JTF, and there are now those who joined for reasons and objectives which are not in tandem with the original goal of the ‘Yan Gora’. Like the findings showed that the Civilian JTF were once doing well but are now being accused of abuse of power, theft, extortion, rape, molestation among others to mention but a few. The Civilian JTF seeks to control the excesses of its members before it loses its credibility. As many fear that they are gradually becoming a nuisance to the society they vowed to protect and fight for, the Civilian JTF in its current phase have in its ranks persons whose personal goals conflict with the institutions goal and perhaps overrides the institutional goals resulting to acts frowned at by the members of the society.

5.2 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Through secondary data, the study found out that there are about 25,000 Civilian JTF members. However, those trained and placed under financial stipends were about 2,000. Therefore, the government should consider putting more members of Civilian JTF on remuneration as this will aid them in their daily needs and reduce the tendencies of them getting involved in inappropriate acts or even aiding and abating such acts.
  2. The government in the light of the call for improved wages by labour in the country should also consider improving on the stipends currently paid youth of the Civilian JTF, as this will boost their morale and motivate them more in the fight against insurgency.
  3. The government can also set up a regulatory board or committee which will investigate issues about the Civilian JTF including complaints levelled against them by the public. Such a committee can report back to the government on both the conducts and needs of the Civilian JTF.
  4. The government can also consider using retired security officers as heads of divisions of the Civilian JTF, this can aid in instilling discipline and professionalism in the youth of the Civilian JTF.
  5. The government can also recognise the contribution of exceptional youth of the Civilian JTF and reward them, this can motivate other members to emulate their good conduct and excellence.
  6. The government can also improve their logistical requirements to make them better fit to tackle insurgency, this can also include training in the use of modern gadgets that can make their work more effective.
  7. So many of the youth of the Civilian JTF have low educational attainment, the government can reward willing members with educational scholarships, which can be scheduled in a way that they could still keep within the working force but have spare time to go to school. In this way, their capacity can be built and they lead a better life in the future.
  8. Community members can encourage the Civilian JTF by levying themselves to pay stipends in the communities where their Civilian JTF are not being paid by the government. This will motivate the Civilian JTF and help them not to engage in inappropriate behaviour.

5.3 Contribution to Knowledge

This study has in few ways contributed something new to the knowledge of the operations of the Civilian JTF in Borno state:

  1. This study revealed that the Civilian JTF have gone through two phases: mass movement with one aim to flush out insurgents and the institutionalization phase with its attending implications of members with goals that are not in tandem with institutional goal of the Civilian JTF.
  2. The study also identified multifaceted causes of the rise of the Civilian JTF, revealing that the Civilian JTF is not just a child of necessity, there are cases where youths were organised or even forced to become youth of the Civilian JTF.
  3. The study also revealed that the Civilian JTF has various roles which change as they move from one phase of their emergence to another and as the security situation changed, they began as an offensive combatant force, and moved to defensive combatant force and then assumed non-combatant roles as the insurgents were forced into the forest. They protected communities and public places, they offered intelligence and guided the Military through difficult terrain.

5.4 Suggestions for Further Study

  1. This study has raised a question of concern, which is what lies ahead for the Civilian JTF when the fight against insurgents is over? Many CJTF members have neither education nor skill, they rely solely on what they get for being part of the Civilian JTF. When their services as CJTF members are no longer needed, what will be their fate? Are there any plans by the government and the society to ensure that they are meaningfully engaged and do not become a threat to society? There is a need to carry out studies on this, to find out the future of the members of CJTF when the war against Boko Haram insurgency is over.
  2. This study also raised the question of the inappropriate acts of the Civilian JTF while carrying out their duties. These inappropriate acts may have gone unpunished, a study into it can find out what measures have been taken or should have been taken to deal with these inappropriate acts of the youth of the Civilian JTF. More importantly, is to find out the effect of these inappropriate acts on the victims, especially women and girls who suffered sexual assaults of different sorts.

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